How The University of Sheffield is Using the Parrot ANAFI Ai for Aerospace Teaching and Research | COPTRZ

How The University of Sheffield is Using the Parrot ANAFI Ai for Aerospace Teaching and Research

Rachel Shardlow

11:16 am GMT •

February 06, 2023

As the educational opportunities of drone technology are becoming more widely recognised, we are seeing more applications of drones within university curriculums.

The University of Sheffield is a world-famous institution located in the North of England, leading the way for systems engineering, smart materials, and stem cell technologies in a network of research universities throughout the world. Boasting five Nobel Prize winners and six Queen’s Anniversary Prizes across departments, the university’s Aerospace Engineering degree programme is consistently regarded as the top in the country due to its emphasis on practical skills and academic accomplishment.

University of Sheffield Court 5

As part of the programme, students operate and make their own drones which helps students understand drone design, manufacturing, and testing. The drone’s capability in photogrammetry allows students to create 2D and 3D maps to conduct survey work, expanding their knowledge in the opportunities in drone technology.

COPTRZ have delivered bespoke training courses and supplied drone technology to the university, and we are delighted that we can play such a pivotal role in the educational development of students across the country.

COPTRZ recently reached out to the University of Sheffield to see how they integrated the Parrot ANAFI Ai into their educational workflow.

At The University of Sheffield, we are committed to top class aerospace teaching and research. Our Aerospace Engineering degree programme has been voted the best overall course for the past 2 years in the National Student Survey, and one of the reasons for this is our concentration on practical skills as well as academic excellence. To this end, we run several group projects where students construct aircraft, and inevitably this means drones due to the size of the aircraft being achievable in a lab environment.

We teach the students to make their own drones and also how to fly drones, but much of the focus is on consumer level equipment and electronics using programmes such as Betaflight and Ardupilot. This is a good learning avenue, and it helps the students to appreciate the capabilities of drones, even getting involved in the design, manufacture and testing of the equipment. What is doesn’t do is to teach them about the capabilities that can be found in commercial systems, which is ultimately where we would like our students to find employment. The Parrot Anafi AI fills this need admirably, extending our teaching capabilities in to the commercial operation and use of drones.


Parrot Day - Anafi AI case

What encouraged us to adopt the Anafi AI as a teaching aid is the capability it brings in one vehicle. The camera system allows us to demonstrate both videography and surveying in one unit. The operating system is also simple to use and the level of control that the students can quickly master means that they can explore the capabilities of the craft without fear of losing control of the vehicle. This in itself is a confidence builder as the first steps in learning can be nerve-racking, so anything that makes it easier is extremely useful.

Mastering drone flight and operational procedures is something that we are very keen to emphasise to students, and as such we discuss drone regulations and safe operating procedures at all stages of their education. The capability to demonstrate safe operation procedures, including geofencing and obstacle avoidance, using state of the art equipment allows them to then to explore the necessary equipment to realise that in practice. This allows them to contextualise their academic study in control algorithms and hardware integration, both things the use in their drone build projects, but at a far lower level of complexity.

While their drone build projects incorporate camera systems, the multiple cameras in the Anafi AI allows the students to understand the capabilities of vision systems and their use in control and commercial applications. The capability of the drone in videography allows the students to capture videos of their flight and zoom in on specific details, or demonstrate object tracking, useful for film making or for security applications.

The additional capability in photogrammetry for building maps in 2D and 3D allows them to see how survey work can be conducted. All of these elements build upon their learning and extend their knowledge such that the capabilities and opportunities for drone technology become real. This knowledge can then lead on to research programmes undertaken at undergraduate and postgraduate level.



Although my main target is teaching in aerospace engineering, the Parrot Anafi AI has applications more broadly in training members of the university. For example, there are geography and history students and staff who work directly on surveying of locations, and we can use the equipment to make sure they are trained at the highest level to perform these roles. We also have journalism students who can use the equipment to aid in the development of video clips, and who again need to understand basic operation procedures and safe use of drones in busy areas. Having such advanced equipment helps them quickly get to grips with the needs of their industry and the benefits that drone technology can bring.



As I become more familiar with the equipment, the range of teaching applications just seems to grow, and the Parrot Anafi AI ably supports that development.


Speak to an Expert Today

COPTRZ are currently helping 150+ colleges and universities such as; University of Leeds, York, Chichester, CoWA, MK, Wigan & Leigh, Bedford, Walsall, Edinburgh, Burnley, Cardiff & Vale, Fareham, SMB, Hull, Oxford, Canterbury, Bolton etc. to get the best out of their drone strategies for their staff and students.

It’s easier than you think to get started using drones. Get in touch and our COPTRZ team of UAV experts and specialist, Jamie Cording, BDM of the Education sector, can guide you through the process. COPTRZ can supply a complete drone strategy, including the latest UAV products, software and NQE accredited CAA GVC training to set you on your way to using drones as a teaching tool.

If you have any queries or want to find out more about how you can harness the power of drones, or even have a drone trial at your school, college, or university – get in touch! Book a consultation here, email or call 0333 252 6473.


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