NHS Scotland Drone Delivery Trial Supports Covid-19 Response

An NHS Scotland drone delivery trial will support the U.K.'s COVID-19 response – and help prove the case for drone delivery between remote healthcare facilities.

Thales SOARIZON, providers of drone operations management solutions, has partnered with U.K. drone delivery provider Skyports to work with Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership(HSCP), the integrated partnership of NHS Highland and Argyll and Bute Council directed by the local Integration Joint Board. The trial uses German company Wingcopter's delivery drones to "prove the feasibility of delivering urgent medical cargo, such as COVID-19 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), between remote medical facilities by delivery drone," says a joint press release.

"Based at Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban, the trial will consist of two-way flights between the hospital and Mull and Iona Community Hospital in Craignure 10 miles (16km) away on the Isle of Mull," says the release.

The service has a very clear benefit for the communities served. The heath centers at these isolated communities usually receive supplies by ground transport and ferry, a journey that can take up to 6 hours one way. The on-demand drone delivery system will be able to deliver COVID-19 tests and other medical supplies in about 15 minutes.

In addition, the NHS Scotland drone delivery trials will help move flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) forward in the U.K. Thales and Skyports are working closely with the CAA to facilitate these extended flights.

"Through this trial, the alliance aims to prove the long-term, sustainable viability of such services; bringing together regulation, government and industry to unlock the transformational potential of drones for society when used in a safe, secure and controlled way," says the press release.

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