All projects
Autonomous transport

Autonomous Flying

The Province of Groningen has started the long-term "Autonomous Flying" program, which is carried out in collaboration with Drone Delivery Services BV and DroneHub Noord-Nederland. The ultimate goal of the province of Groningen is to work towards fully autonomous flying for goods and people. Groningen Airport Eelde, Zernike Campus Groningen and Eemshaven form the basis for the Autonomous Flying field lab, where testing, demos and further development of drone techniques take place.

Delivery Drone Medical.

Medical Delivery

An initial project with Medical Delivery as the theme was chosen for this program. Research by DroneHub Northern Netherlands has shown that support for the use of (delivery) drones is many times greater when the flight is socially relevant, for example when it concerns a medical application.

Drones can be used to transport high-value or high-impact medical products quickly, depending on demand and without moving people. For example, imagine how drones could have contributed during the corona crisis. Even regardless of the corona crisis, this is already of great added value, for example for more remote locations in the earthquake area or for the Wadden Islands. This includes transporting blood bags, different types of medication, AEDs, test kits, etc. The coronavirus makes the awareness of rolling out this type of application even more interesting and relevant.

Working towards autonomous flying

The road to fully autonomous flying for goods and people will have its fair share of challenges, such as acceptance among residents and employees, the laws and regulations regarding autonomous flying, not to mention the robustness, reliability and intelligence of such systems.
Implementing the plan responsibly and in small, safe steps and always safeguarding the steps is essential for this project. This way you can scale up step by step to larger drones, longer distances and heavier packages.


As a first step, a series of live demonstrations have been organized in 2020 and 2021. In collaboration with Hive.Mobility, these took place at the Zernike Campus Groningen, among others. These demonstrations are seen as a first introduction and to promote the awareness of future stakeholders and society as a whole. In 2022 and beyond, further development of the delivery drone and flying longer distances and out of sight of the pilot will be central. Various supply and delivery options are also tested with a box, safe and/or winch. In addition, an operational hydrogen drone followed in 2023. By 2024, the aim is to have an operational drone that can transport heavier cargo. A control room and registration or activation portal are also part of the test environment.


Within the field labs for autonomous transport, connections with educational and knowledge institutions play a major role. For example, both Noorderpoort and OmniDrones Academy are working on training for future drone experts.

About the five field labs for autonomous transport

Road, air, rail, water and tube (‘hyperloop’): in the Northern Netherlands, all modalities will have their own field lab for autonomous transport. The region will therefore become the first real hub for autonomous transport in Europe. Autonomous transport must, among other things, ensure better accessibility and quality of life in both urban and rural areas and reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

The aim of the field labs is to work towards both certification and broad use of autonomous transport in daily practice through testing and scaling up. Training and research are also linked to the field labs to sustainably safeguard and pass on knowledge and to develop sufficient talent.

The field labs are practice-oriented test locations, where different parties (governments, companies and knowledge institutions) develop, exchange knowledge and test together. In any case, there will be field labs at the new Hive Mobility Center on the Zernike Campus in Groningen (road, air and general matters), at Groningen Airport Eelde (air), the Eemshaven (water) and the rail route between Buitenpost and the De Vork stabling area (track). The European Hyperloop Center (tube) will later be added as a field lab. There is also exchange between the field labs and the modalities can also be tested and developed in each other’s field lab. For example, we have already driven on the airport airstrip and flown with drones at Zernike and Eemshaven.

The use of an NPG subsidy has made these various field labs possible.