Here come the health drones

Plans are afoot (or perhaps up in the air) in Scotland for the UK's first medical distribution network using drones.

Taking digital healthcare to new heights, plans to deliver the UK's first medical distribution network using drones in connection with Glasgow Airport's operator have taken a step forward, reports Glasgow Live.

The project is working to deliver what will be the first national drone network that can transport essential medicines, bloods and other medical supplies throughout Scotland.

Led by AGS Airports in partnership with NHS Scotland it has secured £10.1 million in funding from the Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland) brings together 16 partners which also includes the University of Strathclyde and NATS.

Since securing £1.5 million in January 2020, the CAELUS consortium has designed drone landing stations for NHS sites across Scotland. A model of the proposed delivery network connecting hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland has also been created.

NHS Scotland has said it will bring its “Once for Scotland” approach to the project, the second phase of which will involve live flight trials and removing the remaining barriers to safely using drones in Scotland’s airspace.

Fiona Smith, AGS Airports Group Head of Aerodrome Strategy and CAELUS Project Director, said: “The CAELUS project is set to revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. A drones network can ensure critical medical supplies can be delivered more efficiently, it can reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, it can provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities.

“The second round of funding from UKRI will allow our consortium to undertake live flights and begin to deploy the physical infrastructure needed to support the drones across Scotland. This will involve building prototype landing bases as well as digital and communication infrastructure. We will also work with local communities to ensure they understand why and how the drones will be used.”

 

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