UK to use drones to deliver vital medicines between islands

The UK's National Health Service has announced it will test the delivery of vital chemotherapy drugs to the Isle of Wight by drone. The agency has partnered with Apian, a drone technology startup founded by a former National Health Service doctor and former Google employee. Test flights will begin soon, and it is hoped that the system will reduce drug transport times, lower costs, and allow cancer patients to be treated in more locations.

The Isle of Wight is an island two miles off the south coast of England with a population of just under 150,000. Because of the short shelf life of most chemotherapy drugs, the drugs are either rushed to the island or patients take ferries to the mainland. The journey can take up to four hours, while a drone flight can travel from Queen Alexandra's Hospital to St. Mary's Hospital in half an hour. Soon, an additional pilot programme will be carried out in Northumbria to see if it is possible to deliver vital medical supplies in an ultra-short time frame.

This isn't the first time drones have been used to deliver vital medicines faster than traditional couriers. Merck and drone company Volansi have begun testing cold-chain drug delivery to patients in rural North Carolina. Likewise, drone technology has helped deliver blood supplies across Rwanda, deliver prescriptions to seniors in Florida, and aid in supply drops during COVID-19.

Likewise, Royal Mail has tested the use of autonomous delivery drones to deliver parcels to remote areas. This includes delivering vital supplies to the islands of Skilley, Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides. As with the NHS trial, Royal Mail said the use of drones would reduce carbon emissions and speed up delivery times, especially in far-flung areas where infrastructure costs are too high to even imagine.

FDD50 fixed-wing VTOL delivery drone

FDD50 fixed-wing VTOL delivery drone

Body length: 2.5m
Wingspan: 3.8m
Maximum takeoff weight: 50kg
Maximum payload: 15kg
Life time: 2h@15kg payload, 4h@10kg payload
Flying radius: 200-400km (depending on the amount of oil)
Maximum control distance: Remote control (manual control): 1km
Ground station control (depending on the distance of the digital transmission): 30km standard
Maximum speed: 130km/h
Cruising speed: 100-120km/h
Maximum oil load: 12L
Lift limit: 4000m
Maximum wind resistance: 12m/s (6 wind)
Use environment: -10 °C +45 °C; anti-light rain
Climb/lower power battery: 4*14000mAh-6S lithium battery
Take-off and landing mode: vertical takeoff and landing
Shipping size: 1.6*0.7*0.6m (length * width * height)

Drop box size: Length 462MM, width 296MM, height 169MM

Delivery method: parachute