Forget airports, drone ports are the future!
What seems just a few years ago most people hadn't really heard of drones or UAV's, despite being around a long time, especially in a military context.
The very first concept of drones (aka unmanned air vehicles/UAV's) can be dated back to 1783 with the invention of the hot air balloon. Later in 1849 Austrian forces stuffed explosives into unmanned balloons to attack Venice. The first concept of a "quadcopter" (the design of many modern drones) was in 1907 when French inventors reached a height of 0.6 metres with an early design of gyroplane (a predecessor of helicopters)
Technology really moved on during WW1 with the development of the Ruston Proctor Aerial Target by the Brits, a pilotless plane launched from the back of a truck (the same team built the first rockets). Over the years various unmanned aircraft were developed by various militaries notably those of the USA and Germany, which brought much destruction during WW2. The Vietnam war saw a massive leap forward with drones fitted with cameras, dropping leaflets, and launching missiles.
In the 1960's the breakthrough technology was used to fuel the surge in Radio controlled planes as a hobby and by 2000 the predator military drone was in use over Afghanistan.
2006 was the year the first UAV was permitted to fly in US Civilian airspace for search & rescue following a deadly hurricane. Entrepreneurs such as our friend Matt Williams were already attaching cameras onto large model helicopters to capture footage for movies.
By 2010 Parrot had developed its first consumer quadcopter and a few years later DJI launched it's first Phantom, beginning today's boom in consumer drones and launching the company to the forefront of the industry, opening up all sorts of potential uses and alternatives to traditional methods used by various industries. Meanwhile major companies started to take notice and have been planning drone delivery services ever since.
This brings us nicely to "drone ports" such as the one proposed in Coventry. For anyone who has seen these futuristic plans they may not realise that this isn't just science fiction but actually the future, although probably not in this concept or in that particular location!
Having a long background in Aviation, we at Pesky Seagull can see how aviation itself has grown substantially in what really is a small period of time. Look at the history of Birmingham Airport for instance and how the original 1930's art deco terminal at Elmdon had already become too small by the 1960's with never ending extensions until the site was replaced altogether in 1984 with a new terminal which itself is continuously being redeveloped.
In the near future the likes of Amazon, Fedex etc will be filling our skies with delivery drones which will need to be highly controlled and meet stringent safety procedures. The artists impression of the Coventry site remind us of Elmdon back in the day and how the architects at the time could not have envisaged what was to come, with lots more and larger aircraft.
When we saw the plans of proposed Coventry drone port, (As much as we expected to see something like this soon) we were confused and shocked by the proposed location. The site next to the Ricoh area where tens of thousands of people would gather in normal times, itself is situated next to a residential area and large retail area on a busy road just of the M6. Hmmmm.. This really makes very little sense.
Even for our inspire 2 drone using our PfCO we need to be 50 metres away from people and buildings yet the kind of drone used for delivery could easily compare with the size of a small private jet, and we envisage the size will only increase in the future until we have floating warehouses! It would need a much larger area than this just for safety! Then on the illustration you will notice drones would be launched and land from a single raised launch pad, which would be unnecessary in itself and just adds to the safety risk if it something was to go wrong and fall off during TOAL especially with people working underneath, never-mind the proximity to the spectators terraces which is just laughable in itself!
Yes, drone ports ARE the future and we see every town and city having at least one if not several, but they will need a much larger area just for safety and practicality alone, never mind maintenance and dozens of launch pads. In addition, they will also need to be able to accommodate growing number of warehouses etc. Not only will we see drone deliveries but also "flying taxis" for people to travel in, so you can see why this particular concept which has received over £2.4m in grants won't last long even if it is built! Maybe the existing Coventry Airport would have been a better location!
We will save these photos to laugh at in the future with our grandchildren at the lack of reality and lack of foresight by our generation.
At Pesky Seagull we take safety very seriously and put a lot of planning into our jobs. We are sure that if one of our customers wanted to give us £2.4 million, then we could come up with a more realistic design!