The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major transportation and delivery problems in economies and businesses around the world, prompting authorities and businesses to seek ways to ease the massive pressure.
One possible solution is drone deliveries. The drone transport industry in the EU reached an important milestone at the end of November with the announcement of the world’s first network of cargo droneports.
The project will include private airports and airport groups operating at more than 35 airports in 11 European countries. The effort is led by Dronamics, a Bulgarian developer and operator of large cargo drones, founded in 2014.
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The top five airports in Dronamics’ European network are in Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy and Sweden, the company told ZDNet.
According to the company’s CEO, Svilen Rangelov, the main objective of this network will be to provide same-day shipping service within the EU in the next few years.
“In a post-2020 world, it is increasingly important to ensure that same-day shipping is available not just in major cities, but in all communities, no matter how small or remote,” Rangelov told ZDNet.
“We are starting with Europe not only because our range of 2,500 km and 1,550 miles allows us to cover the entire continent in a single flight, but also because the EU and EASA have demonstrated a outstanding regulatory leadership in the field of air mobility.”
The issue of drone regulations that differ from country to country has stymied these efforts in the past. But that’s all set to change from January 1, 2021. From next year, the EU is expected to standardize drone regulations, with a new set of rules replacing existing EU member states’ regulations. EU.
Dronamics is already preparing for the necessary certification and plans to launch the first commercial flights of same-day cargo drone services by early 2022. The company will operate same-day flights within the network with its flagship Black Swan cargo drones. , each with a capacity of 350 kg and a range of up to 2,500 kilometers – 772 lbs and 1,550 miles.
According to the operators of the airports that form the network, this technology can also offer vast opportunities for global supply chains.
“Earlier this year, the world saw the effects that border closures and strict quarantine measures had on global supply chains, as the world battled and continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. “, said Massimo Roccasecca, group director of freight of SAVE Group, the operator of Brescia airport.
“But when you have a way to move goods without traveling with it, supply chains become lockdown proof.”
Industries that can benefit from this type of logistics include e-commerce and the pharmaceutical industry.
Steven Verhasselt, commercial director of Liège Airport, believes that unmanned air cargo will be an important part of the future of the logistics industry.
“With the capabilities of the Black Swan, Dronamics is tapping into the growing segment of on-demand same-day delivery in e-commerce, pharmaceutical and time-critical freight,” he said.
The potential of drone technology can be seen through its many different capabilities. In September, the Latvian mobile operator LMT successfully carried out the first cross-border drone flight entirely carried out on the mobile network. The drone was transported from Latvia to Estonia without losing mobile network connectivity.
The ability to easily cross borders while maintaining connectivity would allow drones to assist in international transportation projects, such as implementing rail security measures by monitoring and maintaining tracks that are in border regions.
Ingmars Pukis, vice president and member of the board of LMT, says that currently most drones are based on Wi-Fi connections or other frequencies provided for drone management.
“Unlike the mobile network, these are limited in their range,” he told ZDNet.
“If there is sufficient coverage in the air, the mobile network can provide uninterrupted connectivity throughout its flight, which greatly improves safety.”
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While Dronamics also plans to expand its network to other continents, the lack of regulation remains one of the biggest challenges to date, even on European soil.
Rangelov from Dronamics says, for example, that there is a lot of demand in the Balkan region.
“But the lack of regulation is what’s most troubling right now,” he says.
“Our end goal is to enable same-day air deliveries for every person on the planet at a cost everyone can afford.”