Sentinel Unmanned Continue to Fly With BDS Support, Winning Place on Scottish Government Innovation Programme
Global pioneering designer, manufacturer and service provider of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), Sentinel Unmanned has reached the prestigious Accelerator Stage of the CivTech 5.0 programme.
Established by the Scottish Government, CivTech “drives daring and innovation in the public sector by collaboratively solving challenges to make people’s lives better—and in doing so, creates generations of sustainable, high growth businesses.” There is now a CivTech Alliance across the world with 11 member countries.
Within CivTech 5.0, ten challenges were issued by a variety of public bodies and a competitive process followed to identify the 2020 cohort, with over 100 applicants vying for a place in the initial Exploration stage.
Responding to the challenge set by Nature Scot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) of “How can we use technology to estimate herbivore populations and their impacts across Scotland in a greener and more cost-effective way?”, Sentinel was selected to take part in the Exploration Stage and was further successful in reaching the Accelerator Stage, where only one to two applicants work on each challenge for their Challenge Sponsor.
Sentinel are currently underway into a 14-week fast track programme to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) which will be showcased on ‘demo day’ in early 2021.
Sentinel’s MVP will be developed over the duration to use their existing, ground-breaking LONGREACH unmanned helicopter combined with partner Cubica’s data analytics software, which will be specifically developed to count and sex deer. In layman’s terms, a complex, long endurance drone will be flown with advanced image sensors and processing software on board the aircraft.
Designed to ultimately be a service provided to Nature Scot, land-owners, estate managers, DMGs and other stakeholders, the Sentinel MVP will allow for the current deer count methods used by Nature Scot, which includes a multi-year, multi-million £ helicopter contract, to be conducted in a cheaper, more efficient, safer, and greener manner.
It is calculated that Sentinel’s UAS service will be 75% cheaper and significantly less polluting than using a helicopter.
The BDS has been an ardent supporter of Sentinel and its founder Justin Baxter, who is a qualified deer manager and BDS member, in recent years by providing ideas, expertise and site access for testing and development.
The use of drone technology to assist with deer management and wider applications within the industry has a plethora of benefits, and the BDS are keen to continue to support Sentinel’s journey and monitor the progress of UAS innovations.
Following ‘demo day’ in early 2021, and as part of the CivTech 5.0 process, Sentinel hope to enter a pre-commercialisation agreement with Nature Scot for a contract to provide services. Additionally, Sentinel will seek to exploit their technology for use with other herbivore populations in the UK and other countries.
Justin said, “Sentinel Unmanned are extremely pleased to have been selected by Nature Scot and be part of the CivTech process. We are looking forward to the next 12 weeks and the Demo Day event, where we will showcase our MVP which we are certain will demonstrate to Nature Scot and other stakeholders the transformational benefits of our UAS service solution.
John Johnson, Trustee Director of the BDS and member of the Society’s Science and Research Committee said “ We are highly delighted by Sentinel’s success and have been pleased to assist with locations for the initial trials. These helped provide key information for the choice of optics and data for the development of the artificial intelligence”.