UK launches new coronavirus detection drone delivery service
The Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has begun using drones to deliver Covid-19 test samples and other medical materials across Scotland to improve outbreak-related logistics in remote areas. After completing a 3-month proof-of-concept phase last year, HSCP has now scaled up this service and is fully operational.
The delivery drone, operated by air transport company Skyports, uses a Swoop Aero drone that can carry up to 3kg of critical medical supplies and travel up to 40 miles (64.37km). The shipment includes COVID-19 and other test samples, medicines, necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 test kits. Skyports has thus become the first operator in the UK to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to transport diagnostic samples by drone.
The delivery drone is controlled by the Skyports Operations Center in Orban and flies autonomously along a predetermined route. Communication between the drone and the ground control station will be provided by Vodafone's 4G network and satellite communications to ensure connectivity coverage is available at all times.
The drone delivery service will initially operate between Lorn & Islands Medical in Oban, Mid-Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead, Easdale Medical Clinic in Clachan Seil and Mull & Iona Community Hospital in Craignure, both on-demand and on-demand, NHS workers can place orders through an online system developed by digital consultancy Deloitte.
Funded by a joint UK Space Agency (UKSA) and European Space Agency (ESA) initiative, the project aims to leverage space technology and services that support the NHS