Open Skies Cornwall Demonstrates Pyka Pelican Electric Cargo Drone
A revolutionary electric cargo drone, deemed a ‘game-changer,’ made its debut in Cornwall this week, marking a significant milestone for Open Skies Cornwall, a project under UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, delivered by Innovate. The initiative aims to open up low-level airspace for drone operations, focusing on enhancing connectivity and services for remote communities through innovative technologies.
During a special event at Spaceport Cornwall, consortium partners and key stakeholders witnessed a hands-on demonstration of the Pyka Pelican Cargo drone platform, a fully electric, remote-operated drone with the capability to cover distances up to 200 miles. The drone is designed to carry cargo up to 1.85m3 in volume, weighing up to 175kg, making it the largest electrically-powered civilian cargo drone globally.
Gareth Whatmore, CEO of DronePrep and Project Leader of Open Skies Cornwall, emphasized the importance of developing infrastructure and operations to introduce large payload, electric drone capabilities. He stated, “The demo day was a fantastic opportunity for Open Skies Cornwall consortia members to gain first-hand experience of the largest electrically-powered, civilian cargo drone in the world.”
The Pyka Pelican Cargo drone is set to play a pivotal role in addressing the needs identified during Open Skies Cornwall’s year-long consultation with end users and Cornish communities. Regular flights of the drone are scheduled to commence in 2024, following further development and integration into the program.
Alex Brown of drone operations partner Skyports Drone Services hailed the Pyka Pelican Cargo drone as a “game-changing aircraft” that has the potential to revolutionize services in healthcare and logistics. Brown expressed excitement about working closely with consortia partners to integrate the drone’s capabilities into the program.
Open Skies Cornwall aims to create thematic demonstration environments in Cornwall, allowing real-world testing of solutions for the development and integration of drone services across the county. The project has garnered support from various stakeholders, including NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly ICB, Falmouth Harbour, Royal Mail, and Cornwall Council.
John Groom, NHS Director of Integrated Care for NHS Cornwall & Isles of Scilly ICB, highlighted the project’s potential to support patients in remote communities. He said, “If successful, it will enable samples to be transported more quickly to pathology labs at the Royal Cornwall Hospital and help these patients get faster, more reliable results from tests carried out close to their homes.”
Simon Masters, Innovate UK Deputy Director – Future Flight, praised the project’s progress, stating, “This project is making great strides in developing systems to allow drones to be used across Cornwall, supporting the delivery of key public services and industries.”
The Open Skies Cornwall consortium, comprising industry pioneers such as DronePrep, Neuron Innovations, Skyports Drone Deliveries, and the University of Southampton, has already achieved notable milestones, including the UK’s first NHS and Royal Mail drone deliveries and regulatory advancements in the transport of medical goods. Together, they have also secured the first Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) approvals in the UK.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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