If you want to see drones fly through Europe, we have good news. Airlines this week Dronomics A grant of €2.5 million has been awarded by the European Commission under the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) accelerator programme.
Dronamics is Europe’s first licensed cargo drone airline and the International Air Transport Association (IATA’s) first strategic partner for drones. It took too long.
But, first let’s talk about Dronomics. The company makes large long-range drones specially designed for cargo, like its Black Swan, which can carry 350 kg for up to 2,500 km.
This method of shipping is up to 80% faster, 50% cheaper, and with up to 60% lower emissions than alternative modes of transportation — including airfreight — making it great for mid-mile delivery.
This will enable same-day shipping in industries such as pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and emergency support Drones can travel long distances, helping customers currently served by traditional delivery providers.
Europe’s slow move towards commercial drones
Commercial delivery drones have been slow to roll out in Europe. In the United States and Australia, their use is focused on small deliveries, such as with companies wing (Funded by Alphabet), FlytrexAnd ZiplineDelivering small food, grocery and medicine orders to restricted residential areas.
In Europe, there are only Irish startups manna Currently delivering groceries, food and medicine to Balbriggan, County Dublin. They operate with a model where products are typically dumped in backyards or front lawns, adding to the last-meter challenge for apartment-dwellers in European cities.
A regional droneport will be launched soon
The grant supports the development and roll-out of Dronomics’ cargo drone fleet, the establishment of the first droneport in its network, as well as operations in Europe.
Currently, the European Droneport network includes more than 35 airports in 11 European countries, including Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy and Sweden.
Droneports have many advantages over other cargo deliveries, such as easy integration into customer supply chains. Each droneport requires minimal infrastructure and can be installed in unused airfields, airports, seaports, logistics centers and factory lots. All that is required is paved or unpaved airstrips longer than 400 meters. This reduces set-up and infrastructure costs, creating a more sustainable product offering.
The challenge of making medium-range transport sustainable
In addition, when the drone delivery A huge win for the environment As compared to gas-guzzling vehicles, to date, curiously, there are no environmental subsidies for the use of delivery drones unlike electric cars, vans, trucks and bikes.
Dronemics has a focus on future sustainability, but getting drones to fly long distances with heavy payloads is a challenging task, so most companies deploy their aircraft with fuel until they have proven their business model well enough. But Dronamics is trying a different approach.
Recently the company partner with aviation tech developer Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) to integrate hydrogen fuel cells into their aircraft. Currently, the challenge of long-haul flights powered by batteries or hydrogen is fueled by airplanes flying the same distance with the same cargo weight. Fortunately, there is a lot of R&D in this area, so we can expect big things in the coming years.
The company has partnered with Zero Petroleum to offer a A direct drop-in replacement for existing fossil-based fuels, providing the same performance and range while being sustainable and fossil-free. It is made by extracting hydrogen from water and capturing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide, a process that is completely sustainable when using renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. Burning it emits exactly the same amount of carbon used in production, creating a completely circular process.
Drones are essential if Europe is to meet its climate change targets. The aviation industry has a collective goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. If the partnership can successfully develop a green hydrogen solution, it will accelerate the goal of delivering sustainable, pollution-free fast drones in the middle mile. This means fewer trucks on the road, fewer vehicles on the road, and lower pollution levels. It’s a win for everyone.