Public Engagement

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Science and Engineering Day is an annual event bringing science to life for the general public through over 90 engagement events held across the main Highfield and Boldrewood campuses at the University of Southampton. The event attracts some 4000 people and sees a wide spectrum of interactive exhibits, talks, live shows and facility tours across the science and engineering spectrum.


Our exhibit: How will Delivery Drones Look and Sound? Drone Virtual-Reality experience - Used virtual reality headsets to give the general public an idea of what delivery drones operating on virtual highways might look and sound like in the future.

Participants (years 7 and up) were brought in in maximum groups of eight and were given a brief intro into commercial drones as opposed to hobbyist drones, using the examples of Windracers Ultra and Skylift’s Mugin V50 shown through video and posters. They were then asked how they would feel if their home was on the flight path of a drone corridor where such platforms were operating. They were then given the opportunity to put on the VR headsets under the supervision of a helper and observe the drones in action.

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Journal Articles

Grote M, Pilko A, Scanlan J, Cherrett T, Dickinson J, Smith A, Oakey A and Marsden G (2022) 'Sharing airspace with Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Views of the General Aviation (GA) community', Journal of Air Transport Management, 102, 102218.


Smith A, Dickinson JE, Marsden G, Cherrett T, Oakey A, Grote M. Public acceptance of the use of drones for logistics: The state of play and moving towards more informed debate Technology in Society 68 01 Feb 2022


Grote, M., Pilko, A. Scanlan, J., Cherrett, T., Dickinson, J., Smith, A., Oakey, A., Marsden, G.

Pathways to Unsegregated Sharing of Airspace: Views of the Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Industry.  Drones, 2021, 5, 150


Grote, M., Cherrett, T., Oakey, A., Royall, P.G., Whalley, S., Dickinson, J. (2021) How Do Dangerous Goods Regulations Apply to Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles Transporting Medical Cargos? Drones, 5(2), 38. 


Oakey, A., Waters, T., Zhu, W., Royall, P.G., Cherrett, T., Courtney, P., Majoe, D. and Jelev, N. (2021) Quantifying the Effects of Vibration on Medicines in Transit Caused by Fixed-Wing and Multi-Copter Drones. Drones, 5(1), p.22, 2021.


Reports and Briefing Papers


Conferences and Workshops

Reflections and Opinions of the General Aviation Community on the Introduction of Drones into Shared Airspace


Commercial drone operations take place mainly in uncontrolled airspace, which is extensively used by the sports and leisure flying community – often loosely referred to as the General Aviation (GA) community. There has been growing concern amongst this community regarding the expansion of drone operations, which are largely conducted in segregated airspace under Temporary Danger Areas (TDAs). TDAs effectively restrict access to other air users and are seen by the GA community as a significant threat to their activities. To investigate these issues, the E-drone project ran a national workshop on 26th March 2021 attracting attendees representing a variety of groups from across the GA community.


The purpose of this workshop was to:

  • Brief the GA community regarding current drone operations and plans within the E-drone, Solent FTZ (Future Transport Zone) and other connected consortia.

  • Discuss alternatives to TDAs, in particular the shared airspace concept called 'Class Lima'.

  • Allow the GA community to voice their concerns and make suggestions.

  • Record, analyse and respond to all the comments and issues raised.


Following our analysis of all the comments recorded during the workshop, a summary of the main topics discussed can be found here.

Unsegregated sharing of airspace: Views of the Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry expressed at the E-Drone drone operators meeting (03/08/21)

A key issue with operating drones, particularly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), is approving and setting up Temporary Danger Areas (TDAs), which effectively reserve segregated areas of airspace for drone operations at the expense of other air users. TDAs are a blunt instrument for managing airspace, can take considerable time to get approved, and only last for a specific time period. Hence, there is an increasingly urgent requirement to consider methods by which drones can be integrated harmoniously and efficiently into shared airspace with crewed aircraft. The E-Drone project therefore ran a national workshop to discuss drone integration in shared airspace on 03/08/2021 to which a large number of groups that represented the drone industry were invited.  A summary report is available here.



Spatiotemporal Ground Risk Mapping for Uncrewed Aerial Systems operations

Aliaksei Pilko, A.Sóbester, J.P.Scanlan and M Ferraro - University of Southampton


Presented at the AIAA SciTech conference 2022


In this paper we propose the use of spatiotemporal population density data in the analysis of ground risk posed by UAS (Uncrewed Aerial System) operations. The spatiotemporal population density maps are generated through the combination of authoritative data sources, open source geospatial databases, and past works to dynamically classify proportions of a population to their expected daily activities based upon a given time. This adds a further dimension to analysis allowing evaluation and optimisation of ground risk, both spatially and temporally. This approach is used to analyse the ground risk posed under ballistic and gliding descents of a parameterized UAS along a case study path. An open source tool is implemented as part of this work to aid the decision making of operators and promote safer UAS operations

Access the full paper here