On 15 July 2020 the first Autonomous Flying demonstration day was jointly hosted by hive.mobility, the Province of Groningen and the Drone Hub GAE Foundation.
The Drone Hub GAE Foundation has – commissioned by and in collaboration with the Province of Groningen – initiated the long-term Autonomous Flying Programme. The ultimate goal of the Province of Groningen is to work – in joint collaboration with different parties – towards a fully autonomous air transportation service for commodities and people.
Drone test flights
The first step consists of organising test flights and live demonstrations. In collaboration with hive.mobility the first demonstration day took place at the Zernike Campus Groningen, featuring drones shuttling between two locations. This demonstration proved to be a first successful introduction into the possibilities of autonomous flying drones.
“Through these tests we would – for example – like to determine whether using (delivery) drones for the transportation of medical products between certain regions is a feasible option.“
Daniël Koelikamp (Smart Mobility programme manager of the Province of Groningen): “As a province we are looking for innovative solutions regarding mobility. One of these innovative solutions could include transporting commodities and packages by drones. Through these tests we would – for example – like to determine whether using (delivery) drones for the transportation of medical products between certain province regions is a feasible option.“
The challenges of autonomous flying
The route towards a fully autonomous air transportation service for commodities and people offer a number of obvious challenges such as its acceptance by local residents and employees, the laws and regulations regarding autonomous flying and last but not least: the robustness, reliability and intelligence of such systems.
“Soon new European laws and regulations are expected, which shall offer far more possibilities. Which is exact reason why we are accessing the possibilities of long distance autonomous flying in the first place. The steps taken during these test and demo days, are necessary in order to eventually allow autonomous flying to be commercially feasible,” says Egbert Swierts, Business Developer of the Drone Hub GAE Foundation.
Ilse Mensink (Programme Manager of hive.mobility): “hive.mobility consists of a network of partners in the Northern Netherlands, which is jointly working towards smart and sustainable mobility solutions. This project of our partner – the Province of Groningen – aligns perfectly with this ambition. It is for this reason that hive.mobility full heartedly supports this project by hosting these test and demo days, yet also by contributing in finding potential partners, who could help further develop this project.“
The Drone Hub GAE Foundation and the Province of Groningen are looking for partners in order to jointly take the necessary steps to lift this project to a higher level.