One of the UK’s largest airport agencies is leading the development of Scotland’s first drone delivery network for the transport of medicines, blood and organs.
AGS Airports, owner and manager of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, leads a consortium of 14 groups, including the University of Strathclyde and the air traffic control provider NATS.
The project, called CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland) has raised $ 2 million from the Future Flight Challenge Fund of the UK Industrial Strategy, which focuses on the autonomous delivery of drones to rural areas of Scotland.
“In addition to developing the ground infrastructure required to charge the drones and the in-flight control systems, a key aspect of the project will be to design ways to ensure that the drones can safely share the airspace with civil aviation “said an AGS spokesman. “The project will also ensure that critical aspects such as public safety and noise levels are taken into account.”
The project is scheduled to be operational by spring 2022 and create a digital blueprint of a drone delivery network to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centers and doctor’s offices across Scotland.
“This project has the potential to completely revolutionize the way healthcare services are delivered in Scotland,” said Derek Provan, Managing Director of AGS Airports.
“Not only can drone technology accelerate the delivery of critical medical supplies, it can also reduce waiting times for test results, and most importantly, it can help balance care between urban and remote rural communities.”
The Scottish Government’s Secretary of Commerce, Fiona Hyslop said:
“This innovative project will help position Scotland at the forefront of drone technologies to provide vital health services to people, especially in remote areas, faster. This shows once again that when businesses, universities and the public sector work together they can deliver for Scotland and outperform the competition and receive welcome funding at this challenging time. “
Medical care drones have become increasingly common in recent years. Drone delivery service provider Skyports is working with UK regulators to test the BVLOS flight in airspace shared by other aircraft.
Last year, as part of a COVID-19 testing program, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved medical supply drones to transport supplies and equipment to St Mary’s Hospital near Newport on the Isle of Wight.
Israeli UAS startup Flytrex is working with EASE Drones, the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Grand Forks to deliver groceries, medicines, and other essential goods to residents’ backyards.
In 2019, Irish researchers from NUI Galway, in collaboration with the German drone startup Wingcopter, transported prescription drugs and blood samples for diabetes patients. Wingcopter has also partnered with pharmaceutical giant Merck to deliver pigment samples from a Merck facility in Gernsheim.
The CAELUS consortium consists of:
- AGS Airports Limited
- NATS (Services) Limited
- ANRA Technologies UK Ltd.
- Schneider Electric (UK) Limited
- Atkins Ltd.
- Avy – drones forever
- The Drone Office Ltd.
- Catapult for connected places
- Trax International Ltd.
- DGP Intelsius Limited
- uAvionix Ltd.
- Leonardo MW Ltd.
- University of Strathclyde
Jason is a longtime DroneLife employee with an avid interest in all things technical. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector. Police, fire and search and rescue.
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