At 6:40 this evening a World-first is being attempted from Ryde.
The clever-sticks at Southampton University (Dr Stephen Prior and his PhD students Mehmet Ali Erbil and Mantas Brazinskas) will be flying a Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV)/drone 4.4 miles from Ryde to Southsea.
It will take off, navigate its way across and land – all automatically.
Impressive in itself, but there’s more.
The UAV has low-powered radio equipment on-board, which shouldn’t be able to operate over such a long distance.
To address this, halfway through its journey over the Solent, equipment on the UAV will automatically switch its equipment to point from the Isle of Wight, to Southsea, thus doubling its effective range.
12 minutes journey
The journey is expected to take 12 minutes – similar to the Hover’s crossing time.
You can watch it all on BBC South Today, who will be covering the event.
Sarah Farmer will be covering the launch, live at 6:40, and Tom Hepworth, its arrival.
They were sanguine about the loss, summing it up with “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
It’s possible that if the launch/journey wasn’t linked to the live TV broadcast, they might not have attempted the journey in those conditions.
Image: Sarah Farmer