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Taking human factors into consideration for future flight

Photograpgh of a HSE drone in flight.jpg

The challenge

Future flight is the broad name for sustainably-powered drones and air vehicles that will revolutionise the way we transport things and travel short-distances in the future.

Within the next decade, it's increasingly likely that some kind of future flight technology will become commonplace - parcel delivery by drone is currently being trialled and one day we may be hopping onto driverless helicopters for regional travel.

Many organisations, in the UK and globally, are developing the novel vehicle technologies that will be required for future flight, but as well as rising to the engineering challenges, it's important to consider the wider ecosystem and what else needs to be considered in order for future flight to succeed.

The solution

That's why we need to take a break for a CoFFEE!

CoFFEE, or 'Co-creation of Future Flight Ecosystems and Enterprise' as it's more formally known, is a social research project led by academics at the universities of Loughborough, Essex and the West of England to identify and map the emerging innovation ecosystem, complex networks of stakeholders and technology implementation that successful future flight will need to service.

CoFFEE is funded by ESRC, Innovate UK and the University of Birmingham as part of a larger programme of research and recently made a call for social researchers to participate in a series of on-line workshops to develop a research programme around future flight.

HSE's Jen Webster, an occupational psychologist and experienced social science facilitator, responded to the challenge and volunteered her skills as part of the project.

The outcome

In addition to facilitating the workshops, Jen was invited to join the CoFFEE Advisory Board to provide oversight on qualitative research methods and also to ensure that the health and safety of the operators, as well as members of the public, were part of the discussion.

Speaking about her contribution, Jen said ' HSE's mission is to protect people and places, not just in the here and now, but also in the future. It's vital that when we are innovating for future flight, new technologies build in health and safety from the start as a key part of the development process, not just for the engineering challenges but also as part of the human and social factors that need to be considered too.'

You can find out more about CoFFEE on the project website.

Learn more about how HSE can help to enable new technologies



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