From Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 March, UK-based drone infrastructure firm Skyports will be involved in giving consumers living in Vantaa, Finland, the chance to have their parcels delivered by drone in ground-breaking trials.
These e-commerce deliveries will be one of the first to take place in an urban environment and in the immediate vicinity of a major international airport.
During the three-day trials involving around 100 drone deliveries of parcels weighing up to 1.5 kilos, some consumers that normally pick up their online orders in the K-Market supermarkets of Ylästö and Kartanonkoski will see their packages being delivered by drone. Selected customers will be able to pick up their parcel as soon as it has landed on the dedicated Skyports landing platform – known as a vertiport – positioned in the parking lot of the supermarket.
The parcels being transported will take off from a Skyports vertiport located at the Matkahuolto distribution terminal adjacent to Helsinki airport and will travel five kilometres to the supermarket where they will land autonomously on another Skyports vertiport. Each of the drone flights will be fully automated with the flight control center located 14 kilometres away in the center of Helsinki, overseen by a fully qualified commercial drone operator. As part of the project, dedicated Skyports staff will be present at both the Matkahuolto terminal and the supermarkets to supervise drone operations and ensure safety.
How customers will collect their drone-delivered parcels
- The customer will receive a text message from Matkahuolto detailing when the drone delivery will arrive at K-Market Kartanonkoski or K-Market Ylästö.
- As soon as the drone has landed on the Skyports vertiport, the customer can collect their parcel straight away instead of waiting for it to be processed in store.
- If the recipient cannot collect their package at the time the drone lands, staff at the pick-up point will accept the delivery for collection by the customer at a convenient time.
The deliveries are taking place in the Aviapolis area of Vantaa. This location is the official market testing area of the Finnish Traffic lab. The market testing area is utilised to test new and innovative mobility solutions of which cargo drone deliveries is one example. Throughout the testing program, the consortium aims to demonstrate that cargo drones can provide a sustainable and more efficient alternative to road transportation, and can be seamlessly and safely integrated into the urban traffic system.
Skyports is currently acquiring rooftop spaces across London and locations in other cities around the world for vertiports in order to enable drone deliveries once they start happening.
Skyports Managing Director Duncan Walker said: “Skyports is excited to be part of the ground breaking Aviapolis project. This project will pave the way for future cargo drone applications within urban environments and highlights how the Finnish Government is leading the way globally in mobility innovation.
“Physical landing infrastructure for cargo carrying drones in an urban environment will provide a managed interface between drone operators and end customers, helping to achieve faster delivery times, lowers emissions and more affordable distribution costs than existing forms of freight transportation. Skyports looks forward to working and investing in Finland to develop its commercial drone eco-system.”
The drones to be used in the test are quadcopters designed for professional use with a total mass of less than 7 kg. They are provided with a wireless connection to the operating centre in downtown Helsinki via the mobile phone network. The drones are fitted with anti-collision sensors. The drones will fly along pre-determined routes at a fairly low altitude avoiding all obstacles near their flight path by a minimum margin of 15 metres. The route analysis was carried out by harnessing data from a number of sources and the flights were simulated with the aid of artificial intelligence before the final route selection. The testing staff will monitor the travel of the drones in real time. During the test, the drones will carry parcels with the maximum dimensions of 12 x 17 x 30 cm and a maximum weight of 1.5 kg.