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Autonomous ‘security pod’ will have tethered drone for bird’s eye view

Professional Engineering

One of the autonomous Aurrigo pods that will be in use at the MK 5G Create project in Milton Keynes (Credit: Aurrigo)
One of the autonomous Aurrigo pods that will be in use at the MK 5G Create project in Milton Keynes (Credit: Aurrigo)

An autonomous ‘security pod’ patrolling a 5G test site around a football stadium will have a tethered drone streaming live CCTV over the network.

The unique vehicle combination will operate alongside a 10-seater shuttle and two smaller passenger pods at the £4m MK 5G Create project in Milton Keynes.

Coventry firm Aurrigo, which has already completed a successful driverless vehicle trial in the town, will work with Milton Keynes Council, MK Dons, BT and five other consortium partners to test how 5G applications ‘can create a world class visitor experience for users of the stadium and surrounding campus facilities’.

The company will manufacture and operate the 10-seater shuttle running a short autonomous route from Bletchley train station to MK Dons Stadium, together with two pods operating around the retail park perimeter.

The MK 5G Create shuttle

The MK 5G Create shuttle

The tethered drone on the patrolling security pod will stream CCTV footage over 5G to the site’s security centre. Simon Brewerton, chief technical officer at Aurrigo, said it will “provide protection and a constant ‘eye in the sky’. This is a world first and it’s great that we can potentially prove out a solution for businesses to improve and reduce their costs using automated security solutions.”

He told Professional Engineering: "The security vehicle is a bespoke four-wheeled security vehicle that can be ridden in. It includes the Aurrigo self-driving technology with scanners and infrared cameras that can be used to patrol the campus during the day and at night.

"The security vehicle includes a landing pad for a drone on the roof. There is a winch mechanism to deploy and recover the tethered, flying drone that flies in the air above the vehicle to give it a bird’s eye view of the surroundings from around 10 meters high when deployed. The vehicle can drive around and the drone will keep stationary flying above it as it goes.

"The power for the drone is passed up to it via the tether, so that the drone can fly indefinitely as it does not require recharging."

The Aurrigo vehicles will be manufactured at the firm’s engineering centre in Coventry. A dedicated team of 15 people will produce the vehicles before operating them on site.

Brewerton added: “This is another very exciting chance for Aurrigo to deploy our expertise here in the UK, showcasing our autonomous technology and allowing us to engage with the wider public.

“We have a fantastic opportunity with this project to integrate several cutting-edge technologies, including 5G cellular communications that allow guaranteed low data latency and available bandwidth, even when the stadium and retail park are bustling on match days.

“5G allows data from our autonomous vehicles to be monitored remotely in real-time and enables safe and secure communications between multiple vehicles and the central control room, as well as direct communications with each other.”

MK 5G Create is one of nine projects to receive funding as part of a £28.3m joint investment between the government and business, exploring how the country can seize the full benefits of 5G and help British industries capitalise on the power of modern technology.

Trials are dependent on Covid-19 restrictions but could start as early as the end of March. They will run for just over a year, providing autonomous transport options for local people and visitors to the MK Dons campus. It is expected that users will be able to use the new Aurrigo app to book a ride in the shuttle or pods.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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