Alias Drone Trials on Jersey's airport runway at sunrise

Jersey Hosts Innovative Drone Trial, Sparking NASA’s Attention

Posted: 25/06/2024

Jersey is at the forefront of a cutting-edge drone trial to examine the reliability and safety of uncrewed arial technology, with the potential for it to transform supply chain operations for the island.

Alongside Ports of Jersey and Volant Autonomy, Digital Jersey assisted in the facilitation of the trial, which is one of only two such initiatives worldwide. 

America’s space agency is among the international eyes that have been closely tracking the progress of the a “cutting edge” £3.7m programme to trial uncrewed aerial technology taking place in Jersey.

Sorel has been used as a launch site for test flights since April, as part of the UK’s Agile Integrated Airspace System programme (ALIAS).

Ports of Jersey facilitated the project, which is now in its final phase, with support from Digital Jersey and Volant Autonomy.

The drones took to the skies off the north coast during a series of test flights – initially in April and, most recently, last week.

The trials have been examining the reliability of the unmanned technology and ensuring it meets strict aviation safety standards.

Digital Jersey CEO Tony Moretta said ideas that may once have seemed like “science-fiction” are being enabled by projects like the one happening on Jersey’s very own doorstep.

“China has already licenced air-taxis, which are drones that can carry people, and the rest of the world will follow,” he explained.

He added: “We talk about our supply chain challenges here – and drones were used interestingly enough in covid, in lockdown, to get medical supplies over to the Isle of Wight from the UK mainland.

“So there are lots of applications [regarding] supply chains and we need to understand what is coming down the line.”

Mr Moretta also revealed that the “cutting edge” project was one of only two of its kind in the world.

“The other one is being done by NASA,” he explained.

“We’ve had team calls with the project here and the project team in NASA.

“They’re talking to the team here.”

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