Open Skies Cornwall, a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge competition winner, has taken off in Cornwall with the aim of using landowner, public and local business feedback to help unlock low-level airspace and enable the roll out of ground infrastructure to support deliveries via drone.

The consortium led by DronePrep, and formed of Falmouth Harbour, Royal Mail, NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board, JHUBMED, Cornwall Council, Skyports Drone Services, Neuron Innovations, and University of Southampton are working together to test the next generation of civilian drones, their infrastructure requirements and enabling technology, to serve logistics providers in both public and private sectors across the region.

During the project event at the end of 2022, maritime consortium member Falmouth Harbour and drone operator Skyports Drone Services conducted a live public urban to maritime flight demonstration.

Ship-to-shore deliveries

The flight between three drone delivery register locations within the Falmouth Harbour Drone Testbed Environment, facilitated by local landowners, provided the public with a first look at how electric cargo could be operated at Falmouth Harbour in the future for ship-to-shore deliveries to provide a more sustainable, efficient logistics service.

The event provided a first look at just one of the beneficial services that regular drone services could provide to Cornish communities via the Open Skies Cornwall programme. The flights performed in Falmouth Harbour are a continuation of trials and demonstrations performed in 2021 by DronePrep, Windracers, Skyports Drone Services and Royal Mail between the mainland and within the Isles of Scilly.

The event also marked the first time that the Drone Delivery Register was used. The DronePrep Drone Delivery Register will allow Royal Mail, NHS, Cornwall Council, Falmouth Harbour users, vessel owners, landowners and businesses to register take-off and landing locations for future drone deliveries, share permission to access land and assets, and allow the project partners to test low-level flight corridors (Skyhighways) with agreement of all ground stakeholders.

UKRI Future Flight Funding

In the future the register will provide insights into how Cornish Communities can support progress in this innovative sector to support lifeline, medical and commodity deliveries in onshore, island and offshore maritime environments

As part of the Open Skies Cornwall programme, partners will invest £2.4m of UKRI Future Flight Funding into Cornwall to build ground/landing infrastructure, unmanned traffic management sensor networks, commission new unmanned aircraft and establish Skyhighways (drone flying corridors) to support medical and commodity delivery for the NHS, Royal Mail, Cornwall Council, JHUBMED and the multiple users of Falmouth Harbour.
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