Drones to deliver medicine or food to hard-to-reach places? Testing in the Aran Valley

Transporting goods is not always easy in geographically complex areas. High mountains or winding roads make logistics difficult The charging time is increased compared to other better connected places. At the same time, some basic needs as well as new consumption dynamics mean that the demand for shipping goods is greater than ever and is forcing new solutions.

For all this, Vall d'Aran began tests to strengthen Transporting parcels by drone. The idea is that these vehicles can transport products such as pharmacy orders or parcels from online commerce by air, so that they can easily reach hard-to-reach places.

First steps

In these days, the first test flights of what is known as a were carried out in the valley Archytas Projectwho drives The Iranian company Pirineos DroneIn cooperation with Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

Drones can save time by avoiding mountainous areas or adverse weather conditions (Radio Catalunya/Sofia Cabanis)

When will it be possible to send parcels by air to the villages of the Pyrenees? It does not seem that it should be soon, but the project promoters consider that the foundations have been laid, he points out. Enrique Pastorwho leads the UPC research group on integrating drones into the airspace and is collaborating on the project.

“A lot of tests are needed, maybe a hundred, but we are at an advanced stage.”

Tests began with scheduled flights between Ares de Sus I Cedar Bridge. There are 8 kilometers between the two cities, but the trip by car can take up to 20 minutes, as it is a road with many turns. This is a situation where drones could be a good solution, according to the company's CEO, Lara Church:

“The focus is on isolated and depopulated areas, where conditions are exacerbated by bad weather. The service will be ideal if there are dead ends or avalanches, but it will also be an ideal service for people with limited mobility who need medicine, food, etc. “

Cooperation between the public and private sectors

Since they will have to cover large distances, the drones will not be visible to the pilot controlling them, therefore, it is necessary to prepare A system to control devices kilometers away. UPC is involved in the development and implementation of this program.

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The devices will fly on their own thanks to software that will allow them to receive commands mid-flight (Radio Catalunya/Sofia Cabanis)

The aim is to develop a system equivalent to that used in commercial aviation, which requires planning and coordinating different flights, different operators, etc. he The devices are controlled through the mobile network I, Therefore, it is necessary to fly them into coverage areas to be under control.

Exportable template

Iglesia explains that this project will serve as a pilot plan for a model that can be applied to other parts of the state: “The advantage that we have here is that the geography is very mountainous and rugged, so let's try and learn here will be applicable to the entire country,” he points out.

The tests carried out in the Aran Valley will be applicable throughout the country (Radio Catalunya/Sofía Cabanis)

Project created by members of Pirineos Drone Lara Iglesia, Daniel Castez, and Nacho Lazaro Receiving support from the Ministry of Ecological Transition worth €68,000, they are ensuring that the idea they want to promote can also help reduce their environmental footprint.

“Drone transport is more environmentally friendly than ground transport. In addition, we operate with electric drones and are more efficient: faster, lower energy cost and lower battery consumption.”

Custom hardware

Most drones usually are Light devices capable of moving quickly. In essence, in this case they will be very similar, but slightly larger, to be able to support heavier loads and also have more autonomy in flight.

The future of air transport includes air taxis and large drones (Radio Catalunya/Sofia Cabanis)

in the beginning They can load from 1 to 3 kgUsing a standard flight platform. Later The payload will be extended to 5kg The ultimate goal is to reach large dimensions l'aerotaxi. It will be a model of a drone that can transport passengers, like the unit at Lleida Alguaire Airport, which according to Iglesia will be the usual means of transportation in the future.

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Distribution and organization

As for parcel delivery, according to the plan’s promoters, We don't have to think about door to door service. The drones will unload their shipments at small logistics points located in each municipality.

The fact that it is increasingly difficult to locate people at home makes them resort to this Square pointsWhere drones can Deliver or pick up packages, change or recharge batteriesetc.

Technicians from the company and UPC participate in the first flight tests (Radio Catalunya/Sofia Cabanis)

Iglesia admits that it will be necessary to train city hall staff so that they learn how to handle and operate, as they will be responsible for the first distribution points.

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