The prospect of using drones to deliver goods along ‘superhighways’ in the sky took a significant leap forwards this week after the government pledged £273m in grants for aerospace projects.

The money is to be shared between designs for green aerospace innovation and ultra-efficient manufacturing processes and technologies – and £105.5m will be used for 17 projects focusing on air transport systems.

The government said it could create more than 8,800 jobs and make motorways safer.

One of the projects, Open Skies Cornwall, will involve work with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to use drones for the delivery of mail and medical supplies to residents on the Isles of Scilly.

Another, Reading-based Skyway, is looking at using drones to survey motorways and ports and reduce the need for costly transport system closures and improving delivery times.

Transport minister Robert Courts MP said: “Integrating drones into our transport system will play a huge part in better connecting communities, from potentially delivering vital NHS treatments in isolated communities to capturing high quality aerial imaging for rescue teams.”

Altitude Angel, part of a consortium of firms building a 165 mile drone superhighway that connects airspace above Reading, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby, said its project would begin the integration of drones into our everyday lives.

Richard Parker, Altitude Angel CEO, said: “The capability we are deploying and proving through Skyway can revolutionise the way we transport goods and travel in a way not experienced since the advent of the railways in the 18th century: the last transport revolution.”