InDePTH - Intelligent Drones for Ports and Highways Technology

The InDePTH project will investigate the use of autonomous drones to deliver this vision.


InDePTH - Intelligent Drones for Ports and Highways Technology

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Project dates: 1 July 2022 – 30 June 2024

About the Project

The aircraft will be used to regularly survey wide infrastructure estates, including ports and highways, to create digital models and obtain detailed insight of these dynamic environments. InDePTH will utilise onboard sensing, data, and image processing equipment to autonomous drones, currently available as drone-in-a-box (DIAB) solutions.

Current DIAB offerings include mission-tailored sensing equipment and minimal human input and supervision but lack end-to-end and real-time data analytics integration. DIAB solutions today require lengthy manual data offloading after missions, making real-time analytics impossible. Another constraint of current DIAB solutions is that data offloading is typically not fully integrated with analytics software, requiring the use of cloud-based data lakes.

Please Note: Funding available is the grant value awarded by Innovate UK.

Project Activities

The project aims to fast-tracking data transport while providing enhanced AI analytics near real-time. InDePTH will augment the drone data analytics using state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) algorithms developed by RoboK, creating optimised image processing aiming at modelling environments to a 3D digital twin. BT will provide secure and fast data transport equipment by exploring the use of fast and reliable 5G and fibre links to transmit DIAB data with low latency.

Three demonstrators will be developed to support critical use cases for Associated British Ports (ABP) and Kier Highways. For ports, two key use cases are identified: InDePTH will investigate the use of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) to improve inventory management for ABP ports, focusing on vehicle inventory; as well as using drones for off-shore surveillance and maritime operations. In the highways environment, InDePTH will seek to deploy UAS to continuously assess the ground surface quality of highways.


InDePTH will deliver more efficient applications and processes in high-cost areas such as search and rescue and highway maintenance, whilst reducing the economic impact currently caused by interruptions such as road closures. Additionally, using UAS in such operations can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.

To find out more about the project, please contact Innovate UK Business Connect’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for Aviation.

Project Partners

  • BT
  • Associated British Ports
  • Connected Places Catapult
  • Kier Highways
  • RoboK

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