Skyports uses space-enabled drones to deliver medical supplies

Skyports Swoop Aero drones

Skyports has partnered with Vodafone and Deloitte with funding from the UK and European Space Agency to deliver medical supplies and samples by drone to the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland.

In the next few months, Skyports will begin to deliver medical supplies, medicine, and samples using its delivery drones that only take 30 minutes per delivery, from the current 48 hours it takes by road. The faster speed also allows for deliveries to be made at a much higher rate than before. Staff at the hospitals will be able to request and schedule deliveries using a web-based interface developed by Deloitte.

The drones are remotely operated from Skyport’s operations center in Argyll and Bute but will fly autonomously with pilots standing by if anything goes wrong. The drones will used Vodafone’s 4G network and Earth observation data to communicate with ground control stations.

By the end of the drone flights, Skyports hopes to have fully integrated its drone delivery system into the NHS supply chain for future use as a main delivery method for the hospitals.

Duncan Walker, chief executive officer at Skyports, had the following to say on the use of delivery drones to deliver medical supplies and samples to hospitals.

Using drone deliveries within supply chains can create significant time and cost savings.  This project is a natural progression from our recent trials with the NHS in Scotland as we scale and develop our operations, supporting a wider network of hospitals and medical practices as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want more healthcare facilities to benefit from our service over the long term and the experience of this important initiative will put us another step closer to permanent operations that the whole of the NHS could soon benefit from.

Earlier this year, Skyports completed its drone delivery trial, flying essential medical equipment between two hospitals in the Scottish Highlands to assist in the fight against COVID-19. As it continues its operations Skyports is also working the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to trial beyond visual line of sight flights (BVLOS) in the UK.

Photo: Skyports

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