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Can Drones Support the Transition to Sustainable Mobility Systems?

2 min

Image Credit: Oxfordshire County Council
A pilot demonstration for a set of innovative drone and electric van freight trials has been successfully completed at Milton Park, a science, technology, and business community in Oxfordshire. Quadrant Transport highlights how the trials mark a significant step in the transition towards highly sustainable mobility systems.

Oxfordshire County Council has planned and overseen this drones initiative as part of the HARMONY project, testing low-carbon transportation as well as the integration of new mobility technologies with existing systems.

Support was provided by the academic partner, University College London, and organisations from the Harmony consortium such as RUAS, who managed the trial operation by providing and flying the drones, and Airbus through its Unmanned Traffic Management platform (UTM).

Mobility Sustainability Will Be Boosted By Reducing Emissions and Congestion

The Harmony consortium has planned three pilot demonstrations, taking place in Oxfordshire, Rotterdam, and Trikala. Their overall aim is to demonstrate electric automated vehicles (Avs) and drones in real-life conditions integrating them with traditional transport modes to understand the requirements, reactions and barriers and collect real-world data.

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment, said: “Innovative zero-carbon-ready transport is set to make a huge impact, it just needs us to demonstrate how. Hence this trial, which is another example of our close working with our world leading universities, of which we are extremely proud.”

As a council, we’re already doing high profile work to help everyone reduce their individual emissions footprint and this is how we’re looking to decarbonise the rest.

Funding for the project was received from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The combination of technologies used throughout these demonstrations means that they are the first of their kind, looking to advance mobility sustainability by reducing emissions, congestion, and noise levels.

From the trials at Milton Park, which included the use of an electric van provided by Oxfordshire County Council, and the delivery of a defibrillator, successfully delivered that the mobility technologies tested enabled increased efficiency and speed of freight delivery.

Oxfordshire Offered An Ideal Location Due To A Safe And Controlled Environment

Veronica Reynolds, Sustainability and Community Manager at Milton Park, said: “It was a real privilege for Milton Park to be chosen as the location for these cutting-edge trials in drone technology and we’re grateful for the chance to collaborate with the other consortium partners on such an exciting project.”

The benefits from this innovative technology are clear to see, particularly from a sustainability point of view, as it could ultimately lead to fewer vehicles spending less time on the roads and a reduction in carbon emissions.

Milton Park was said to be selected as the ideal location for the trials as it could offer a safe and controlled environment for innovative exercises, as Oxfordshire has one of the most sophisticated road traffic control centres in the UK.