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18 A bulletproof titanium UAV that is practically immune to jamming, interference and other countermeasures is the latest concept from Drone Evolution, a company based in Wales that develops innovative unmanned technologies and provides services that make use of its technology. Called SafeFlight, the system is currently in development, but the company’s 12/24 V mobile universal tethered UAV power system known as SkyWire came on the market last summer. John Young, Drone Evolution’s technical director, is a partly self-taught engineer who came to UAVs via facilities management. He began exploring technology as a teenage tinkerer. “When I was a kid I used to take things apart and repurpose them,” he says. One of his early efforts was some ear defenders that amplified quiet sounds while cutting out loud ones. “I can remember when I was 14 making those out of little microphones and speakers, and having fun going into the woods and listening to squirrels and birds with them. And of course, when people were shooting in the woods it didn’t hurt your ears.” Craft, design and technology were his favourite creative and practical subjects at school. He also enjoyed science, but describes the school’s scientific curriculum as basic. After leaving school, he studied electronics and communications at technical college, leading to a career in the technical side of facilities management (FM). Safety at height As with most of Drone Evolution’s principal officers, Young’s involvement with UAVs began while working for FM giant Mitie on reducing workplace accidents associated with working at height. That led to a decision by Mitie management to set up a drone department. “Myself and a colleague were quite inventive and novel in the way we approached problems, so they asked us to get involved,” he says. Initially they looked into modifying Drone Evolution’s technical director tells Peter Donaldson about the company’s technology and his engineering philosophy High-wire act December/January 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology