The pre-project’s primary objective is to explore the feasibility and value of using drones for home delivery in suburbs. Drone flights in cottage areas are optimal for testing as the building density resembles that of the suburb, but involves a lower risk due to the asynchronous periods people stay in their cabins. Aviant will operate 3 months of such test flights in Lillehammer, followed by an evaluation for the main project in collaboration with NTNU and the shaping of a consortium. This investigation will be unprecedented; showcasing key insights to operate last-mile delivery in suburbs with drones. The findings will also identify the missing competency necessary for the consortium before applying to the main project. After that, the consortium will be able to determine the appropriate approach, ambition level, and goals for the main project. This includes creating a plan of how to involve users and stakeholders in the main project.
Regarding the central R&D challenges, drone delivery introduces a massive change in people's behavior. The complexity involved can be too much to handle in a pre-project. This has only been tested in a handful of places in the world. Hence, it can prove difficult to define what questions to research in the feasibility study. Naturally, operating autonomously in new environments also introduce the danger of crashing drones. The risk is however minimized by strict regulations, technology redundancy in case of failure, a safety pilot monitoring every flight, as well as the experience from 3,500km flown so far.