Skanska-Costain JV secures more government drone funding

A Skanska/Costain/Strabag consortium has secured further funding from the government’s £33.5m Future Flight Challenge drone fund.

The consortium is working with to develop an advanced drone system that will enable remote inspection and monitoring of urban sites in the public domain, for example construction sites, industrial sites (nuclear and oil & gas), and road, rail and telecoms infrastructure, and enable live emergency services support.

The solution from UK-based drone innovator teams human pilots operating beyond visual line of sight in a control room with highly-automated drones on the client site to enable the remote execution of complex, close-quarter missions on industrial sites. According to, this "solution unlocks the remote capture of aerial data at enterprise scale for the first time".

The technology will be tested on projects run by: Skanska; the Skanska/Costain/Strabag joint venture on HS2; Sellafield; Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service; Vodafone; Network Rail; and Atkins. During these tests the system will be operated by drone service providers, Terra Drone and Sky-Futures ,or by the in-house drone teams at Sellafield, Network Rail, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Felipe Manzatucci, digitalisation director for Skanska UK, said: “Carrying out inspections and monitoring activities using drones has already proven to be a valuable way to safely access accurate, real-time data on construction activities. Being able to do this remotely, without the need for teams of specialist drone operators on site will reduce costs and increase the speed in which these activities can be deployed.”          

John McKenna, CEO of, said: “The Future Flight Challenge funding will accelerate us towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale – high up alongside manned aviation and low down inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities. Unlocking the safe and remote operation of drones in urban and industrial locations will deliver huge benefits to society across public health & safety, efficiency and environmental impact.”

The consortium secured funding from the first tranche of the drone fund late in 2020, as reported by BIM+:

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