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Skyports and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore middle-mile drone logistics

Skyports Drone Services, a specialist in drone logistics, surveys, and monitoring, has agreed a strategic partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to explore the feasibility of middle-mile drone logistics in the New York and New Jersey region.

The Port Authority oversees much of the region’s air, land, rail and maritime transportation infrastructure network, including: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty Airport (EWR); the Port of New York and New Jersey, one of the largest and busiest port systems in North America; in addition to major tunnels and bridge crossings within the Port District, which spans a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.

The multi-year collaboration between Skyports and PANYNJ will help realize PANYNJ’s vision for implementing and scaling uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) across its extensive portfolio of maritime, aviation, and transportation assets.

The collaboration will initially explore how middle-mile all-electric drones can support the Port Authority’s goal of reducing volumes of truck traffic which currently utilize the Port’s many bridges and tunnels.

The Port Authority aims to reallocate a meaningful portion of its cross-Hudson freight movements to greener modes of transport, for example UAS.

The strategic partnership between Skyports and PANYNJ will begin with a feasibility study which will identify regulatory, technical, operational, and commercial pathways across the Port District for enabling drone services, with an initial focus on middle-mile applications.

The “middle mile” refers to the segment of the supply chain between the distribution center (or warehouse) to a retail store or local fulfillment center, but not directly to the end consumer.

This part of the supply chain is critical for efficiently moving large quantities of goods closer to their final destinations, thus preparing for the “last mile” delivery, which is the final step of delivering goods to customers.

Skyports, which has spearheaded the implementation of drone services across several industries in multiple countries, including medical, maritime, oil and gas, and logistics, will leverage its extensive experience to support and scale drone operations for PANYNJ.

The company’s best-in-class fleet can support a wide variety of applications, including beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”) operations, light and heavy cargo transport, and accessing hard-to-reach locations.

Alex Brown, director of Skyports Drone Services, says: “Our partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a pivotal step for maritime and logistics focused drone operations in the US.

“The Port Authority, with its extensive portfolio of maritime and aviation assets, including three of the busiest airports in the US, and the nation’s second-largest port by total cargo volumes, is well positioned to integrate UAS applications in a highly complex operating environment.

“We look forward to partnering to explore the feasibility of drone operations in the Hudson River airspace, onboarding initial customers, and producing an actionable roadmap for UAS in New York City, with a view towards launching proof-of-concept operations within the Port District.”

Seth Wainer, innovation program director at Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, says: “It may seem like something from the Jetsons, but if drone cargo proves viable it may be a low-carbon way to move the most valuable items between New York and New Jersey.

“We are exploring routes and starting to look for customers who may be interested in investing in this space alongside us.”

Skyports has extensive experience in the maritime and port sectors. The company operates daily commercial deliveries to vessels in the Port of Singapore, providing a safer, greener, and faster alternative to traditional delivery services.

Skyports also works with Norway’s state-owned energy company, Equinor, to deliver supplies to oil installations in the North Sea. In Scotland, Skyports operates an inter-island drone delivery service in partnership with Royal Mail, the UK postal service.

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