Dubbed “the first of its kind,” a new study is set to begin involving Michigan and Ontario, turning to the skies for critical supplies.
It will test the feasibility of commercial drones with two particular sectors in mind.
“We are cautiously optimistic that the feasibility will show an opportunity to deploy this system,” says Bryan Budds of the Michigan Department of Transportation.
A system that could deliver goods and services faster and more efficiently than ever before.
“It could really fill a niche in terms of providing things that people might not have access to,” Budds says.
The cross-border will further explore a commercial drone air route between suitable locations in the province and state.
“What is needed to really enable operations beyond visual line of sight that are generally not approved under the current regulatory structure,” says Budds.
The study will examine how a network of drone flights could offer “just in time” delivery.
“What opportunities exist for efficient movement of medical supplies, medical equipment,” Budds says.
Or just as essential to the local economy — auto parts.
“This is where the automotive sector is really heading. Technology and not just cars, but the movement of people and goods,” says Raed Kadri, head of the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, one of the groups involved in the study.
“The fact that the trade corridor is the most important in North America, I think, there is no reason why Windsor should not be a major player in this area.”
With bridges and tunnels already congested, study participants are looking to the skies for solutions, but crossing the border still poses legal challenges.
“If you’re going to do this across the Canada-US border, how are you going to perform the customs function,” says Bill Anderson of the Cross-Border Institute.
Anderson says goods and services should be checked at entry points.
“I think there’s going to have to be some sort of international agreement on how security is handled,” he says.
Budds expects the study to be completed by the fall.
“I think you realistically look at a year or two when you really see some of this work starting to happen,” he says.