Connected Places Catapult has partnered with ANGOKA Ltd, a Belfast cybersecurity start-up and Cranfield University in an exciting project to support and protect the future of drones and autonomous flying vehicles.
The UASAS project has been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with an aim to revolutionise aviation and drone usage.
Drones are poised to become ubiquitous devices – they do not require runways, can be small and agile, and can hover over and survey areas that might be too risky for humans. Their commercial potential is staggering, and already companies like Wing (a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company) and Amazon are beginning to explore this market. Delivery of goods and medicine, search and rescue and infrastructure, agricultural and environmental monitoring are just a few of many use cases that will soon propel drones into everyday life, for business and personal use.
However, for drones to truly take off, there needs to be a way to ensure that the communication crucial to controlling and flying the drones is protected. Without this key element, drones are at risk of being hacked and hijacked by nefarious actors, endangering not only the mission of the drone, but the environment around it. Securing drone communication ensures that national infrastructure, such as airports and mobile towers, is also protected.
The UASAS project brings together these three collaborators to create an authentication system that will provide a trusted identification service for drone usage. This system will protect communications from potentially devastating cyberattacks. Trusted identification will allow organisations to ensure that drones are flying in the right zones and without adverse effects to other parties, increasing overall confidence in drone technology.
Mark Westwood, Chief Technology Officer at Connected Places Catapult said: “With drones being set to become part of everyday life, one of the essential components is highly reliable and resilient security and authentication systems to ensure safe use. We are looking forward to being part of a project which will increase the confidence in drone technology and support the growth of a valuable market sector.”
ANGOKA are very excited to be working with such forward-thinking and resourceful partners, and to be building upon our work in the NCSC Cyber Accelerator in terms of authentication and identity management for drones and IoT devices. As drone technology advances and becomes more commonplace, solutions to protect their communications and identity will be more important than ever.
Yuri Andersson, CEO of ANGOKA commented: “Securing the communication of drones and unmanned vehicles will have a great impact across industries, from logistics to emergency response. We are excited to lead on this innovative project with world-class partners that will pave the way for safe and ubiquitous drone usage.”
Dr Saba Al-Rubaye, Senior Lecturer in Autonomous and Connected Systems and project lead at Cranfield University said: “We’re very pleased to be working with ANGOKA and the Connected Places Catapult on this exciting project to protect communication systems for controlling drones in flight and ensure they are able to safely complete their missions, while also protecting the environments around them. There is huge scope for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles to transform air transport activities and services – this project will help to harness that potential in a safe and secure way.”
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