OCRACOKE, N.C. - For Ocracoke Island, accessible only by plane or boat, it can be a struggle to get vital supplies, especially during severe weather. The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Division of Aviation successfully completed two trial flights of a delivery drone, bringing supplies from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island.
“This is a tremendous first step in better connecting Ocracoke Island to potentially life-saving supplies and equipment,” said Secretary of Transportation Eric Boyette. “Today, Ocracoke Island is accessible only by plane or by boat. What we’re working on here is an entirely new, third method of serving the needs of Ocracoke’s people.”
According to a release from NCDOT, a drone took off from the Hatteras Village ferry dock Thursday and landed at the South Dock on the north end of Ocracoke Island, carrying small payloads: the first flight delivered a small survival kit, space blankets and a chocolate muffin, while the second delivered bottles of water.
The eight-mile round trip flights averaged just 18 minutes in flight time.
“This was just a small trial, but we hope to continue scaling this up to larger payloads and longer flights,” said NCDOT Unmanned Aerial Systems Program Manager Ben Spain. “Long-term, we could see deliveries coming to Ocracoke all the way from the mainland.”
NCDOT said that the drones, Volansi C-10 Geminis, are capable of vertical takeoff and landing and can carry payloads up to five pounds. The department also suggested that the drones could be outfitted with cameras to monitor shoaling in the ferry channels, and could reduce the strain on ferries as a way to get important items to the island quickly.
The next test will involve flying a drone from Hatteras all the way to the Village of Ocracoke.