The initiative, planned and overseen by Oxfordshire County Council is part of the HARMONY project, testing low-carbon transportation as well as the integration of new mobility technologies with existing systems.

The Harmony consortium has planned a total of three pilot demonstrations, taking place in Oxfordshire, Rotterdam and Trikala. Their overall objective is to demonstrate electric automated vehicles (AVs) and drones in real-life conditions integrating them with traditional transport modes.

The trials at Milton Park, which included the use of an electric van provided by Oxfordshire County Council, and the delivery of a defibrillator, successfully highlighted that the mobility technologies tested enabled increased efficiency and speed of freight delivery.

The project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. It was also supported by University College London, and organisations from the Harmony consortium such as RUAS, who managed the trial operation by providing and flying the drones, and Airbus through its Unmanned Traffic Management platform (UTM).

Cllr Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment, said: ‘Innovative zero-carbon-ready transport is set to make a huge impact, it just needs us to demonstrate how. Hence this trial, which is another example of our close working with our world leading universities, of which we are extremely proud. As a council, we’re already doing high profile work to help everyone reduce their individual emissions footprint and this is how we’re looking to decarbonise the rest.’

Veronica Reynolds, sustainability and community manager at Milton Park, said: ‘It was a real privilege for Milton Park to be chosen as the location for these cutting-edge trials in drone technology and we’re grateful for the chance to collaborate with the other consortium partners on such an exciting project.

‘The benefits from this innovative technology are clear to see, particularly from a sustainability point of view, as it could ultimately lead to fewer vehicles spending less time on the roads and a reduction in carbon emissions.’