Group of drones in the sky

Royal Holloway University gets drone testing hangar go-ahead

Image credit: Foto 140047883 © Feverpitched |

Royal Holloway University has obtained planning permission to build a new drone training and testing facility on its Egham campus, in Surrey.

Runnymede Borough Council has approved Royal Holloway University's plans to build an 895-square-metre drone hangar. 

The facility, which would be 13.5m high, will allow operators to develop and test specialist electric drones in a "confined, safe space, without disrupting residents or those on campus", the university said.

The drone hangar is expected to be part of the new Omnidrome Research and Innovation Centre at the university for world-leading research, innovation, education and knowledge exchange for air, land and water-based drones.

The building will be a "showcase facility" for the university, planning documents said, which will operators to develop and test specialist electric drones in a confined, safe space, without disrupting residents or those on campus.

The application has called for the exterior of the hangar to be a mix of white and grey to ensure it retains a "subtle appearance".

Concept for the Royal Holloway University drone hangar

Concept for the Royal Holloway University drone hangar / Royal Holloway University

Image credit: Royal Holloway University

The Egham-based university said the site will enable flight training to assist with drone and robotic educational research trials. It also confirmed no drones would be allowed to fly inside the building. 

“This is a very exciting time for the university, and I am looking forward to heading up the new Omnidrome Research and Innovation Centre with the team," said Professor Jürgen Adam, the new director of Omnidrome. 

“The centre and new Omnidrome facility will allow us to meet the future needs for challenge-led research and innovation in areas such as drone and sensor technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.”

Professor Ken Badcock, senior vice-principal (academic strategy & research) at Royal Holloway, added: “The new centre and Omnidrome facility will be on the cutting edge of new advances in cyber security and is unique to the UK in its response to robotic research.

“We are very much looking forward to working with many partners, sharing innovations and ideas and helping businesses explore the full advantages that technology like this can bring to their organisations.”

The build is expected to take three weeks, as the structure is primarily fabricated offsite, and will start in spring 2023. 

It is estimated that the UK’s drone cargo delivery market could be worth £45bn by 2030 and enable drones to transform how essential services function – from supporting the emergency services with real-time search and rescue, fast transportation of medical supplies, farming analysis, and architectural planning.

In July, the government greenlit a project to develop a 165mile-long superhighway network for uncrewed aerial vehicles by mid-2024. Earlier this year, BT confirmed it had been chosen as the contractor for the project. 

Last year, the UK approved an NHS trial that aimed to deliver chemotherapy medication via drones from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. If successful, the drones will be able to provide access to life-saving medication in under 30 minutes. 

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles