.... the drone plane delivering post to Orkney's most northerly island, North Ronaldsay. I should have added a link to that yesterday. So here it is now
And a youtube video from Orkney.Com - link here
|Larch on the pier on a cold and frosty morning!|
In November I was approached by Hans from MWLC in the Netherlands to see if Graemsay folk would be interested in being a pilot project for testing of an electric autonomous vehicle (AVs). No not a "remote" car, but something that might be able to deliver parcels or similar. This project is funded by HITRANS (the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership). The Orkney project base is at the Orkney Research & Innovation Campus in Stromness.
So, after some discussion it was agreed that the small AV (rover) would run tests between the Graemsay pier and my house, along the public road. So Larch duly arrived on Graemsay and began the pilot.......
Folk on the island were aware of what time the trials would take place, and were invited to come and watch, ask questions, raise concerns etc. and yes smile and make jokes!
For the pilot Larch was connected via the 4G mobile network to MWLC in the Netherlands and they could control Larch, and see through the camera. The idea was that Larch would first learn the route before being able to do this automatically.
Larch leaving the pier.....
What happens if it meets oncoming traffic I hear you ask? Well it then stops and sends a signal back to the operator who takes control and moves Larch off the road. And yes there are high verges and ditches - again this is why pilots are necessary to test in real world situations. There were some tractors and cars heading to the pier for the cargo run so Larch got some practice in getting out the way. Though I think at one point due to loss of signal it was hauled along on a piece of baler twine.
Larch is a prototype and full of electronics, and not, as yet, able to manage any kind of parcels or other "freight". But that's what research and development is all about - getting things to work operationally.
Despite the problems losing the 4G connection, and poor Larch needing to be carried or dragged along, the team in the Netherlands were largely pleased with the trial as it enabled them to collect a lot of data.
Though there was much skepticism and amusement on the island as to the practicality of such vehicles being useful here, it was interesting to see. It was also good to be able to provide real-world situations for future development.
On one of the more northerly of the Orkney Islands, Papa Westray, the local school are running the project with the children able to be involved. They are transporting food from the school and community garden to the school kitchen etc. So a great opportunity for the children to learn about what are likely to be future developments and take part in the pilots.
Here - well Larch is due back in January so we will see how it gets on this time!
Do take a look at MWLC Global's website (click here) - and you can see more practical uses and models.
|Photo by Charlie Groundwater over in Stromness|
.... we had snow! It's unusual for Orkney to get much in the way of snow. This is largely due to us being in the Gulf stream. As you will see from these photos, even when there is a layer of snow over Orkney - Graemsay remains resolutely green! This is much to the disappointment of anyone wanting to go sledging. Most of the children grow up not getting much opportunity to make snow creatures, snowball fights or sledge. Instead of snow, our Winter is characterised by wind (lots) and/or rain (lots). Today we have both wind and rain...... so.... a reminder of brighter days!
The photo above shows lots of snow being dumped in the vicinity of (but not on) Graemsay. This picture was taken by Charlie Groundwater who goes on a daily morning walk around Stromness and the shore with his camera. He gets some lovely shots and is happy for me to share them.
When we can, Button and I like to take morning tea (well ok that bit is just me) on the bench outside the front door. So despite snow on hills, there we were....
These photos were taken on the winter solstice but I forgot to post them here! As you can see it was a grey day, with the Hoy hills hidden beneath a blanket of cloud. Still it was good to be out and about. Above - sheep enjoying their silage lunch. Stromness and Orkney Mainland in the background.
Button having a mad cat moment on the beach!
Not one of my better years for blogging. But I've not been adventuring much due to risk of Covid, and generally lacking motivation for blogging. Anyway... hopefully a few of you still enjoy the pictures from the wee island of Graemsay, so as we head towards the Winter Solstice, here are a few photos from around the shore in recent days....
Above, a lovely late afternoon sky as the sun sets behind Hoy. Sunset today is 15.16.....
The moon outshining Hoy High lighthouse......
Her arthritis meds are making a difference for her. She still hasn't got her "spring" so needs steps to get up and down things rather than jump. But she's definitely moving more easily, and trots about when the mood takes her too.