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Drones flown in medical supplies delivery trial

Drones were flown above the north coast of Jersey this week as part of a trial.

It could see them deliver vital medical supplies between the Channel Islands, France and the UK. The Ports of Jersey has partnered with the Agile Integrated Airspace System Programme (ALIAS) with Volant Autonomy, which is running the trials.

The project lead, Anthony Lawrence, said the £4m UK-funded project was coming to an end after two years.

He added: "Not being part of the UK means that Jersey is connected to Europe and also has UK regulations, so that was important to us to go through those various processes.

"As soon as we started engaging with the various institutions in Jersey it became obvious there was a big appetite to engage in new technologies and a recognition that this sort of technology could bring benefits to the Island and the region."

Mr Lawrence said the drones could bring over medical goods, help with search and rescue operations and fisheries patrols and border checks.

The future aim, he said, would be for drones to take off from Jersey Airport and potentially take people in air taxis. This week the electrically powered drones, from companies Skylift and Skyport, were flown above the karting track near the Ronez Loop Road at Sorel.

Paul Strudwick from the Ports of Jersey, said: "We've set up this restricted area for these trials to make sure we segregate the commercial aircraft and general aviation from these trials to make it as safe as we can.

"The ultimate goal I believe from the ALIAS team is that with their technology we will be able to integrate the crewed and un-crewed aircraft in the same airspace."

The drones were flown below 3,000 feet, which is well underneath commercial aircraft flight paths. The Isle of Wight used drones to bring chemotherapy and prescription drugs over to patients during the pandemic so that people didn't have to travel to the mainland for treatment.


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