Life on the Dutch Wadden Islands means nature, peace and quiet – and isolation. Obtaining medical supplies can be a challenge, but Schiermonnikoog is the testing ground for a new experiment to get medication to the island dwellers more quickly: drones.
The drones are meant to eventually deliver packages containing prescription medication for rare conditions. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that it is currently illegal to fly a drone beyond the visual line of site in the Netherlands, but the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has approved up to 30 test drone flights between Lauwersoog (on the mainland) and Schiermonnikoog. The ministry reportedly also sees potential for the drones to carry out field inspections for the agricultural sector.
On Thursday, members of a team from TU Deflt were positioned on the island and the mainland to test out three types of drones: a Geocopter GC201, a DJI Matrice and a Delftacopter. The drones fly at an elevation of 150 to 500 meters and can travel up to 50 kilometres per hour: depending on the wind, the flight across the Wadden Sea can take 5 to 15 minutes.
The first test flights are being conducted without any cargo. During the testing period, observers will monitor how local bird and seal populations respond to the flights and a salvage team will be available in the event of a crash.