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Flylogix and Cambridge Consultants to send drones beyond the horizon

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Flylogix and Cambridge Consultants, part of the Capgemini Group, have announced a collaboration that will exploit Iridium's state-of-the-art satellite communications to safely control unmanned aerial vehicles from a central control hub.

This will enable Flylogix to move from local drone piloting at the airfield to centrally controlled operations, massively increasing the resilience of their services to offshore installations. The Flylogix service reduces the cost, risk and environmental impact of gathering data from offshore exploration and production activities. Remote monitoring using satellite-controlled drones is a critical development for offshore operations, while applications that extend beyond line of sight are the next frontier in drone service development.

Oil and gas operators need accurate and timely operational data. Flylogix delivers full-service, over-horizon operations, without the cost and environmental impact of manned aviation. This joint project will test and improve key elements of the service and demonstrate how complex, safety-critical functions can be serviced from a central hub.

Conventional radio-based drone control systems cannot support central control. To date, satellite-based control systems have not been commercially viable in the private sector. Flylogix has already developed a novel dual satellite link that exploits the cost-effective Iridium® network using one of the smallest transceivers available, enabling safe, commercial operations that extend over the horizon. Cambridge Consultants will work with Flylogix to develop and enhance the performance of this system to enable resilient and reliable global operations, all controlled from Flylogix's head office in the United Kingdom.

Cambridge Consultants has a long-term strategic relationship with Iridium Communications Inc., which operates the world's only truly global satellite network. Cambridge Consultants helped to develop vital network components, including transceivers, gateway systems and service management platforms, alongside multiple generations of handsets that can access Iridium's platform. As such, it was the natural choice to support Flylogix in developing its first of a kind service.

To support the development, Flylogix has established a relationship with a global leader in offshore drilling services for oil and gas wells. This company will provide an offshore platform for test operations as well as its unrivalled insights into offshore inspection and data gathering. The collaboration is also supported by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency.

Charles Tavner, Executive Chairman at Flylogix, commented: 'Flylogix is transforming the safety, cost and environmental impact of gathering data from offshore platforms, and only Iridium satellite communications can provide the robust, low-latency connectivity required for such testing applications. We're delighted to be working with Cambridge Consultants, the acknowledged leader in satellite communications development, as we make the critical shift to centrally-controlled operations.'

Stewart Marsh, Associate Director at Cambridge Consultants, added: 'This project harnesses our expertise in the aviation and energy sectors. In taking unmanned vehicles beyond line of sight we're breaking new ground, building on our long track record in technically challenging and mission-critical system design.'



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