U-Flyte Research Challenge

“…to research and develop a digital drone operation & services platform, and address key challenges, including safety and regulatory aspects, currently hampering the global roll-out of commercial drone products and services…”

Research Themes

U-Space UTM

The U-Flyte team will develop models for autonomous drone traffic management, including 3D risk analysis, pathfinding and route optimization.


Developing algorithms for drone routing

Downstream Services

A key focus of the work is research and development of downstream services in wide-area rapid mapping, object detection, tracking & logistics and optimisation.

Wide-area rapid mapping using LiDAR

Commercial Applications

The U-Flyte project involves investigation and development of sector-specific commercial applications for operational drone services. The areas of interest are Marine, Land, Critical Infrastructure & Emergency Management.
Using drones for marine search-and-rescue


Marine Watch 2: Septemper 2018, Waterford

Marine Watch Phase 2 was the first in a series of U-Flyte demonstrators that will take place between 2018 and 2022.  The focus of Marine Watch Phase 2 was on the marine/coastal environment and aimed to build on progress made in Phase 1.  Maynooth University and the U-Flyte team worked alongside Airbus and the Irish Coast Guard in supporting their existing marine-based activities, for example Search and Rescue, with the use of drone platforms and data captured using drones. Marine Watch Phase 2 involved a number of drone applications that have never been tested in Ireland before. These tests required careful planning and coordination, permissions, the development of protocols, and the need to establish lessons learned for the roll-out of more efficient marine-based drone services in the future. 

Swimmer in Difficulty

A high-performance drone, equipped with a state of the art video system, searched a coastal area to locate a swimmer in difficulty. When detected, the coordinates of the swimmer were transmitted to an Irish Coast Guard rib.  Simultaneously, a heavy-lift drone flew to the reported position and deployed a buoyancy aid.

Integrated Airspace Testing

This test required collaboration from partners including the Irish Aviation Authority, local air traffic control, airport managers, aircraft and drone pilots, and researchers/developers. Tasks were focused on air-traffic separation procedures, de-conflicting, navigation, visibility, communication and safety.

Locating Missing Persons

This test was the first of its kind in Ireland and deployed a GSM detection and location device (aka GSM Sniffer) on a drone that flew along the coast of Waterford in search of ‘missing’ people. The GSM sniffer can detect the signal from mobile phones within a radius of up to 2km, regardless of the phone being within range of a network. 

Radar testing: February 2019, Waterford

The U-Flyte team went to Waterford in February 2019 to test a number of different radar and RF systems for the detection and location of drone activity. 

Detect and Avoid testing at Trim Airfield: October 2019

The U-Flyte team where at Trim airfield on Wednesday October 9th to gather data from a range of sensors aimed at developing and improving detect and avoid algorithms for UAVs. The team deployed a Cessna 172 and DJI M600 in this series of range tests.    

Critical Infrastructure Monitoring: October & November 2019

The U-Flyte team are working alongside Gas Networks Ireland and ESB International to assess the capability and usefulness of drone mounted sensors, together with latest machine learning algorithms, to carry out automated monitoring and inspection of infrastructure sites across Ireland in the future.