South coast trials
Inteliports was founded at the end of 2021 as a spin out from David’s father’s research and development company Motion Robotics. Its first major trial was with the Solent Future Transport Zone to help an NHS hospital on the Isle of Wight transfer and receive medical supplies by drone with a hospital in Southampton during the pandemic.
“Nurses and porters do not have the time to be responsible for drone deliveries so we realised that to be successful, the entire logistics chain had to be automated,” David says. “We introduced ground systems and worked with a university to conduct drone vibration tests, to ensure medicines would not be damaged in flight.”
After securing a place on the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator with Connected Places Catapult, the firm worked alongside flight specialists at Cranfield University who helped provide further testing. From there, the company took its mobile drone platform to Llanbedr airfield in north Wales to conduct trials.
Inteliports is currently working with Fawley Waterside – an eco-town in Hampshire – to explore how drone delivery infrastructure could be integrated into a future development masterplan. Further prospects include working with a rail freight logistics company to investigate how railways could transfer goods to drones to complete the last leg of a long distance delivery.
“Our mission at Inteliports is to create systems and solutions that allow drone logistics operations to scale and impact communities positively,” says David. “We look at the core technology associated with drones and the architecture that wraps around them, but also want our ports to embed successfully into communities.”
He adds that he does not want to see urban centres “ruined by an overpopulation of drones”, but ensure that the flying vehicles can support local areas.
“This is not just a case of laying out infrastructure in a logical fashion, it has to add value to a place,” he adds. “Drone infrastructure is likely to have some push-back from the public, so we have to make sure that what we build is more than just somewhere drones fly from; it needs to help create a community.”
One wonders if the company’s ground infrastructure for logistics could one day be used by drones carrying people. “The hope is that we can eventually scale up to systems that support air taxis,” David adds. “But we are being realistic at the moment as to what is possible with air mobility. Right now, our focus is on supporting the movement of goods.”