BMT secured funding through the Defence and Security Accelerator, a U.K. research fund offering millions of pounds to projects for the Ministry of Defence, to build a prototype Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) that will allow a team of responders to remotely assess a scene for hazardous materials and predict the likely impact.

“Responders to potentially hazardous scenes are required to take the necessary precautions before entering the scene,” said BMT Principle System Analyst Antony Waldock. “The ability to use an autonomous vehicle to scan the area during deployment would reduce the time taken to respond to the threat.”

The project combines two previous research and development initiatives to help deliver technology in a standard, commercial off the shelf Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or integrated with a specialist UAV.

First, BMT and Rescue Global worked together to understand how the data captured by a UAV could aid a team of responders to perform Survey, Refine, Map and Sample. Then they built early prototypes of the tool that could be used with a mobile device, tablet or desktop.

In the second project, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh University collaborated to develop state-of-the-art gas sensing and dispersion modelling technology on-board a UAV.

“Funding from the DASA will enable BMT to deliver a prototype system that could literally save lives by rapidly accessing a scene for hazardous material and predicting the potential impact,” said BMT Head of Information Systems Simon Luck. “We will be working closely with the emergency services and our partners to deliver a prototype for trials next year.  The end goal will be to deploy the system into the boot of the car of every responder within the next few years.”