AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports in the U.K., is to lead a consortium that will develop and trial what will be the country’s first national distribution network to use drones to transport essential medicines, blood, organs and other medical supplies throughout Scotland.
The AGS led consortium, which brings together 14 organizations including the University of Strathclyde, and air traffic control provider NATS, successfully secured £1.5 million from the U.K. Industrial Strategy Future Flight Challenge Fund to demonstrate how autonomous drone technology can enhance access to essential medical supplies, particularly in rural parts of Scotland.
The CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland) project will involve live drone flight trials. In addition to developing the ground infrastructure needed to recharge the drones and the systems to control them while flying, a key aspect of the project will be designing pathways to ensure the drones can safely share airspace with civil aviation. The project will also ensure critical aspects such as public safety, security and noise levels are considered.
A digital blueprint of the drone delivery network will then be created with the potential to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and doctors’ surgeries across Scotland. The project is scheduled to run until Spring 2022.