UK-based drone infrastructure firm Skyports and partners have successfully completed drone delivery trials in an urban environment and near a major international airport.
Skyports specializes in drone delivery: designing, building, securing and operating cargo and passenger “vertiports” where drones may safely launch and land. Having a conveniently located and secure designated launch and landing site eliminates many of the complex safety issues associated with door to door drone delivery in crowded environments- while still providing benefit for consumers and e-commerce providers.
For three days earlier this week, consumers living in Vantaa, Finland, had the opportunity to have their parcels delivered by drone in ground-breaking trials. These e-commerce deliveries were among the first to take place in an urban environment, and in the immediate vicinity of a major international airport.
About 100 drone deliveries of parcels weighing up to 1.5 kilos (about 3.3 pounds) were delivered to a Skyports landing port – known as a vertiport – conveniently located in the parking lot of two K-Market supermarkets. Participating customers were able to pick up their parcels as soon as they were delivered by drone.
The parcels took off from a Skyports vertiport located at the Matkahuolto distribution terminal adjacent to Helsinki airport. They traveled five kilometres (a little over 3 miles) to the supermarket, where they landed autonomously on the destination Skyports vertiport.
Each of the drone flights was fully automated, with the flight control center located 14 kilometres (approximately 8.7 miles) away in the center of Helsinki, and was overseen by a fully qualified commercial drone operator. As part of the project, dedicated Skyports staff were present at both the Matkahuolto terminal and the supermarkets to supervise drone operations and ensure safety.
How the trial worked:
- The customer received a text message from Matkahuolto detailing when the drone delivery would arrive at K-Market Kartanonkoski or K-Market Ylästö.
- As soon as the drone landed on the Skyports vertiport, the customer could collect their parcel immediately, without waiting for it to be processed in store.
- If the recipient could not collect their package at the time the drone landed, staff at the pick-up point accepted delivery for collection by the customer at a convenient time.
The deliveries took place in the Aviapolis area of Vantaa, which is the official market testing area of the Finnish Traffic lab.
From a Skyports press release:
The market testing area is utilised to test new and innovative mobility solutions of which cargo drone deliveries is one example. Throughout the testing program, the consortium aims to demonstrate that cargo drones can provide a sustainable and more efficient alternative to road transportation, and can be seamlessly and safely integrated into the urban traffic system.
Skyports is currently acquiring rooftop spaces across London and locations in other cities around the world for vertiports in order to enable drone deliveries once they start happening.
Skyports Managing Director Duncan Walker said: “Skyports is excited to be part of the ground breaking Aviapolis project. This project will pave the way for future cargo drone applications within urban environments and highlights how the Finnish Government is leading the way globally in mobility innovation.
“Physical landing infrastructure for cargo carrying drones in an urban environment will provide a managed interface between drone operators and end customers, helping to achieve faster delivery times, lowers emissions and more affordable distribution costs than existing forms of freight transportation. Skyports looks forward to working and investing in Finland to develop its commercial drone eco-system.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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