A drone is helping connect the Isles of Scilly to mainland England
Unmanned freight flights can help ferry medicine, commercial goods, and other items to the archipelago more easily and more greenly than other means.
The chances of unmanned flights across the United Kingdom and even into Europe are increasing thanks to a company called Flylogix which successfully completed its first freight flight between the mainland and Isles of Scilly using a drone. On Thursday, the company reported it had successfully transferred supplies to the remote islands off the Cornish coast, in southwest England, completing a 60-mile round trip in the process.
The flight carried supplies from the National Health Service and was dropped off at the Saint Mary's airport. The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) said that the drone delivery created a "new lifeline connection" with the region, according to the BBC. On its way back, the drone carried gin and flowers.
The background — The successful drone delivery has encouraged the ISSG to consider future, larger-scale projects. At the moment, the Isles of Scilly — an idyllic archipelago — is home to 2,200 people with limited links to mainland England courtesy of air and sea. With unmanned aerial vehicles in the mix, locals get swifter access to medical supplies, commercial products, and other types of deliveries.
Climate incentive — Environmentally speaking, a small-sized drone carrying freight is less harsh on the environment compared to traditional aircraft, which produce greater CO2 emissions. Curbing the negative impact of conventional aviation on the climate is one of the incentives for mainstreaming drone freight flights as, per the BBC, such aircraft emit 98 percent fewer emissions than their piloted counterparts.
Some futurists believe that drones could radically disrupt life as we know it and there's more and more proof that unmanned aerial technology is getting more common, useful, and acceptable. In March, an American company started doing drone deliveries in Virginia. Amazon, too, has been working on mainstreaming its Prime Air drone deliveries, while Walmart formed a drone delivery collaboration with Zipline, and aims to launch one-hour deliveries in selection regions in 2021.
What's next? — Flylogix's drone delivery project is going to run for three months on a trial basis. These three months will prove whether drone freight flights are commercially viable and sufficiently safe to become a regular fixture. If this trial succeeds and receives enough public support, Flylogix plans to run a "full commercial operation," according to the BBC.