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Amazon (US) to test drones at DronePort in Flanders

American internet giant Amazon is part of an international drone consortium that will conduct research and carry out demonstrations at the DronePort campus in Flanders. The consortium also includes Proximus, Elia, Sabca and the Port of Antwerp.

The SAFIR consortium at DronePort, Belgium

Niche leader

Drones for professional applications, such as the transport of parcels or medical shipments, are on the rise worldwide. Flanders is playing an important role in the development of this niche sector in the aviation industry.

For example, Sint-Truiden, in Flanders’ easternmost province of Limburg, is home to the DronePort campus – located at a former military airport. The campus includes offices, a start-up incubator and test facilities where drone pilots can experiment in controlled test zones. Another unique factor is that drones can be tested in combination with manned flights.

SAFIR

The business campus is now concluding a cooperation agreement with Flanders-based and international drone industry players. These are united in the SAFIR consortium, which is short for Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment. U-space stands for drone activities at low altitude.

The consortium has 13 members from Flanders, Belgium, a number of other European countries and the US. The most well-known member of the consortium is, by far, Amazon Prime Air – the e-commerce giant’s division responsible for developing and testing drones for parcel delivery.

European support

“The member organizations contribute 50% of the consortium's resources,” explains Mark Vanlook, general director of DronePort. “The other half comes from an EU fund.”

In Sint-Truiden, Amazon will experiment with the delivery of parcels. According to Vanlook, the consortium's tests will start next spring: “After gaining the necessary knowledge and experience, our intention is to carry out tests in the summer of 2019 above an urban environment, more specifically above the Port of Antwerp.
 
Find out more about Flanders' aeronautics expertise

More info

DronePort
Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
19 November 2018

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