A €6.3 million research project aimed at developing systems to improve the safe and regulated operation of drones will be announced in Waterford this morning.

It is hoped the study will help clear the log-jam currently impeding development of the drone industry.

Drones are already used for many applications including photography, filming and search and rescue.

But experts believe they have many more potential uses, such as for deliveries, mapping and security.

To unlock such potential though, the technology must improve so safety, security and regulatory rules can be relaxed.

Right now, drone operators can only fly their unmanned aerial vehicles within strict parameters of distance.

U-Flyte, a collaboration between researchers at Maynooth University and industry partners including Airbus, Coillte, the Irish Coastguard and more, aims to overcome this problem.

It will see drones carrying the latest navigation, optical and radar sensors gather data and feed it to powerful computing platforms to develop digital models of flying environments.

Waterford Airport will be used as a test bed, because it has controlled airspace, a manned control tower and is close to a range of terrain.

Science Foundation Ireland is providing €1.8m of the €6.3m funding and the balance is coming from the industry.