Consisting of 14 organisations, the project hopes to provide urgent medical supplies throughout Scotland
AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, is set to lead a consortium that will develop and trial a national distribution network using drones to transport medical supplies throughout Scotland.
The network will be the first of its kind in the UK and will help delivers medicines, blood, organs and other medical provisions. The scheme is scheduled to run until spring 2022.
Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, believes the new technology will “revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland”. He also said the desired result of the project is to provide “equity of care between urban and rural communities”.
The consortium consists of 14 organisations including the air navigation service provider, NATS and the University of Strathclyde. Together, the companies were able to secure £1.5m from the UK Industrial Flight Challenge Fund by demonstrating how drone technology can enhance access to medical supplies.
On December 1, 2020, the Care and Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland (CAELUS) project began. Live drone trials are set to commence as well as constructing the necessary ground infrastructure to enable them to recharge.
According to AGS, an essential part of the project will be to design pathways that enable drones to share airspace with civil aviation. Other considerations include public safety, security and the monitoring of noise levels.
The next stage is to then create a digital blueprint of the drone delivery network. This is hoped to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland.
Both NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the NHS West of Scotland Innovation Hub will work on partnership with the AGS led consortium project.
AGS Airports was established in 2014 to invest in Aberdeen International, Glasgow and Southampton airports and is the second largest airport group in the UK.