Drone delivery in Dubai will soon become a reality following the announcement on Wednesday of the completion of the first phase of planning routes in low-altitude airspace and identifying dedicated landing zones for drones.

Called ‘Dubai Horizons’, the first phase of the project by Dubai Municipality and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) was completed at Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), where evaluation of low-altitude airspace planning, drone operations, privacy policy, and air navigation safety was carried out.

Last month, DSO also hosted a three-week long BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) trial or the operation of drones at distances outside the normal visible range of a (human) pilot. The trial showcased the safe and secure transportation of several consumer goods within DSO.

The drones used for the trials showcased their proprietary connectivity system, navigation system and multiple safety tools that include parachute and collision avoidance, among others.

Dawoud Al Hajri, director general of Dubai Municipality, noted: “The (Dubai Horizons) project significantly enhances Dubai’s preparedness to utilise drones and expand the scope of related services.”

“Once completed, the ‘Dubai Horizons’ project is set to substantially improve Dubai's readiness to use drones and air delivery services with clear and well-defined routes… The project will also enhance air navigation security and safety standards while also promoting a favourable investment climate in the logistics sector,” he added.

As part of the Dubai Horizons project, Dubai Municipality will provide digital geospatial twin databases of Dubai, which comprise of 3D maps of all city landmarks and facilities. Additionally, the municipality will also provide advanced geospatial solutions, planning standards, and data on land classification and regulation list.

Mohammed Abdullah Ahli, DCAA director general of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, also highlighted Dubai’s objective to become a global hub for the drone industry.

He said the objective to create an infrastructure for drone systems by connecting places and buildings through mini runways and airports across the emirate “will significantly strengthen Dubai’s economy.”

Reduced time for parcel delivery

Drones are expected to help reduce time for parcel delivery. Aramex and Dronamics, the world's first cargo drone airline, said early this week that UAE residents may soon receive their courier packages delivered by drones as early as next year.

Aramex COO–Express Management Alaa Saoudi told Khaleej Times: “The cargo hold should be able to give us 3.5 cubic metres of space which would be good for quick turn-around operations within our express middle mile operations. It can be utilised for customers with larger consignments in the last mile as well.”

Faster and more convenient

Last month, during Gitex Global 2023, Khaleej Times was given a glimpse how autonomous drones could be used for delivering snacks in Dubai in the near future.

The pilot project was demonstrated by Dubai-based FEDS Drone-powered Solutions (FEDS) and Chinese company Meituan UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems). Rabih Bou Rached, founder and CEO of FEDS, said “drone delivery is a better alternative to human delivery as it is faster because there is no traffic in the air and the order will come quicker.”

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