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Unmanned Systems   |   18 December 2020
4 unmanned trials defying the disruption of 2020


COVID-19 has had a profound impact on most industries across the globe. The world of unmanned systems development has not been spared by similar disruptions. Yet, despite the headwinds, several research and development projects in unmanned systems have exceeded expectations to achieve breakthroughs in milestone trials this year.

Here’s our round-up of 4 significant unmanned trials in 2020:

Image credit: NHS Foundation Trust

Secure air corridors for drone flights in the United Kingdom
In progress

The NHS is currently conducting phased trials of a hybrid drone to transport medical samples and supplies between select UK hospitals – the first step to establishing a GPS-navigated medical drone delivery service using a network of secure air corridors for drones.

This trial was conceived by healthcare drone start-up Apian, supported by Anglia Ruskin University, and funded by the UK Space Agency.

Image credit: JD.com

Supplies delivery via drone flight beyond visual range in Japan
August – September 2020

Drone trials beyond visual range were conducted to deliver supplies mountainous regions for the first time in Japan, proving the feasibility and reliability of drone deliveries to unique locations.

The trials were conducted by Rakuten, Inc., with drones and technology provided by JD.com.

Image credit: todayonline.com

Shore-to-ship food deliveries in Singapore
August 2020

PandaFly, a collaboration between Foodpanda and ST Engineering, conducted a drone trial to deliver food packets to a ship located 3km offshore using DroNet – ST Engineering’s drone network system.

This comprises one part of Foodpanda’s goal of operating a network of designated drone delivery collection points to increase the efficiency of its delivery services and preserve the quality of delivered food.

Image credit: Schiphol

Drone inspection gets a boost from reduced air traffic in the Netherlands
June 2020

With the mass grounding of airport operations from COVID-19, Schiphol Airport seized the opportunity to test the waters for integrating manned and unmanned systems in shared airspace. The regulated one-week trial deployed drones in infrastructure inspection in areas such as taxiways, buildings and aircraft.

Sources:
https://www.mse.nhs.uk/latest-news/nhs-drone-trial-set-to-take-flight-1537/
https://jdcorporateblog.com/jds-drones-completed-trial-delivery-in-japans-mountainous-region/
https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/foodpanda-collaborates-st-engineering-drone-food-delivery-trials
https://news.schiphol.com/schiphol-begins-one-week-trial-with-inspection-drones/

Top image | JD.com