Dutch unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Aerialtronics is giving its support of an unmanned systems site at Valkenburg airfield in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Valkenburg airfield would be an ideal site for Northern Europe's first ‘Unmanned Valley,’ where businesses and government institutions can cooperate to develop UAVs, says Ingrid van Engelshoven, deputy mayor of The Hague.
“It’s the ideal location,” says Lucas van Oostrum, co-founder and chief technology officer of Aerialtronics. “It is close to the North Sea, which is perfect for beyond-line-of-sight flying, as well as to technical universities and research centres. All this guarantees a space for practice and innovation for technology-driven industries.”
The deputy mayor was backed by Prince Pieter-Christiaan at the opening of the TUSExpo 2015 at the World Forum in The Hague.
However, there are plans to develop Valkenburg, a former naval air base, into a site for 5,000 homes, which would be a serious blow to the Unmanned Valley initiative, says Aerialtronics.
Van Engelshoven says, “I am not against building new houses, but I am in favour of innovation. With the presence of the national security cluster, The Hague Security Delta, The Hague has become a security hotspot. We know that cooperation between businesses, knowledge institutions and governments leads to new opportunities.”
The Hague Security Delta’s report, “A Blessing in the Skies? Challenges and Opportunities in Creating Space for UAVs in the Netherlands,” was also launched at TUSExpo 2015 and endorses the deputy mayor’s vision.
The report contains recommendations for operating drones, including the importance of short- and long-term regulations and the development of special flight zones to test them. The cooperation between governments, the private sector and knowledge institutions is paramount, the report says.
Jeremy Wigmore, CEO of Aerialtronics, adds, “The opportunity to move to Valkenburg and be part of the Unmanned Valley is a very exciting prospect for our company’s ambitions. Drones, when used correctly, will have a positive impact on business globally, and this facility will be a significant step for us, the region and the industry as a whole.”