Anduril, the US and London based defence contractor, has taken up a tenancy in one of the Satellite Applications Catapult’s drone hangars at the Drone Test and Development Centre (DTDC) in Westcott.

The company had been searching for a site to safely test and develop its autonomous drone capabilities.

“Due to the talent we want to attract, a central London HQ is essential but provides a predicament when it comes to quickly iterating on flight software and hardware,” said David Stubbersfield, Systems Engineering Lead at Anduril. “The DTDC provides a modern, comfortable and fit-for-purpose facility for quickly iterating without putting excessive travel strain on our engineers and operators.”

“In addition to software and hardware in the loop testing, real-world flight tests are a critical component of our iterative and ongoing approach to product development and testing,” he added. “The Drone Centre allows us to quickly install hardware, load software, and execute real-world tests at speed, allowing us to maintain the pace of testing and development required to deliver advanced capability at mission speed.”

The drone centre opened in January last year, in a project funded by the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership. The Satellite Applications Catapult agreed a lease with the site’s owners to run the newly developed facilities.

The facility includes three large workshops to enable companies to design, build and test advanced remotely piloted and autonomous aircraft or drones. Also involved is a Royal Air Force runway – the project will bring it back into use as a 270-metre drone test runway for horizontal take-off, as well as four dedicated landing pads for vertical, or vertical to horizontal, take-off.