The DronePort campus in Brustem, Belgium is teaming with drone testing activity. With the likes of the internet giant Amazon joining an international group of companies all set to test drones.
DronePort Campus has the requisite infrastructure including offices, an incubator for start-ups and testing facilities where its members can experiment with drones in controlled test zones, both indoors and outdoors. This campus is located at the old military airport of Brustem (near Sint-Truiden, in the Eastern province of Limburg). Additionally what makes DronePort truly eye catching for companies is its unique location and the feature that drone tests can also be combined with manned flights.
The official opening of the campus is scheduled for sometime next month and has already secured a partnership with the SAFIR syndicate, a group of domestic and foreign companies involved with drones. SAFIR- an acronym coined from combining the terms Safe and Flexible Integration of initial U-Space Services in a Real Environment, in which “U-space” refers to drone activities at low altitudes. The budgeting has been planned such that half of the funding comes from the partners themselves (like energy supplier Elia, Belgian flight safety board Belgocontrol and the Port of Antwerp) and the other half will be sourced from an EU fund.
Amazon Prime Air, a division created by the American online retailer to test drones for delivering parcels will be actively involved in the drone testing trials at DronePort. Though deliveries by drone are being tested in the UK for two years already, this is a first for Belgium. Amazon wants to move the tests to a more urban environment next year, specifically to the city of Antwerp.
With the goals of lowering its dependence on delivery services and increasing its delivery speed American Amazon had announced way back in 2013 about its plans to use drones for deliveries.
In the United Kingdom, Amazon successfully delivered a package using a drone for the first time. It now has a small distribution centre near Cambridge, which uses drones for deliveries. The very first customer received his order thirteen minutes after the order which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos proudly announced on Twitter.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 14, 2016
The currently delivery system involves one drone delivery for 1 customer only. Amazon intends to make drone deliveries feasible in a manner that dozens of customers around the distribution centre should get drone deliveries. One of Amazon’s goals is also to get orders drone delivered within 30 minutes. There are a few restrictions however, the load cannot surpass 2.5 kg and the weather conditions also play a role. Many areas still need to adapt their legislation, to allow for drone deliveries. Authorities in England clearly indicated they were willing to look for solutions to make unmanned drone deliveries possible, making England the sought after location for Amazon’s first trial flight.