Jersey chosen as 'testbed' for autonomous drone technology

Ports of Jersey says the technology could be 'game-changing'. Credit: PA

Jersey will host trials for a multi-million pound project that could pave the way for autonomous drone flights.

The UK government-funded programme will see new technology focused on making the skies safer for all forms of aviation being tested in the island, with a view to allowing autonomous aircraft to be used for purposes such as transporting medical supplies and making deliveries in the future.

The £3.7 million in funding for the Agile Integrated Airspace System (ALIAS) programme was announced by the UK's Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng.

UK technology firm Volant Autonomy is working with a consortium including Ports of Jersey and Digital Jersey on the programme, which will make use of Jersey's 4G and Internet of Things (IoT) networks.

  • Digital Jersey CEO Tony Moretta speaks to ITV Channel's Jonathan Wills about the trial

Digital Jersey CEO Tony Moretta said: “The infrastructure we offer and the ease with which we can connect Volant to the facilities, regulators, and services it needs, makes us the ideal location. As an island, we can also benefit tremendously as end users.

"The project will see drone flight trials that will demonstrate the opportunities for us to use sustainable autonomous drone aircraft to help transport medical supplies, commercial cargo, and perhaps ultimately passengers at some point in the future.”

Volant is working on developing flight guidance technology such as unmanned logistics aircraft which, if successful, could see drones being flown at low altitudes to deliver items in the future.

A public question and answer session on the proposals will take place in September.