Scotland’s bid to launch what it says will be the world’s first nation-wide medical drone delivery network has taken another step forward with the completion of its first live trial flight near Glasgow.
Led by the by AGS Airports group and the country’s branch of the UK’s National Health System (NHS), the first test flights in the Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland (CAELUS) program were overseen last week by business partner Skyports Drone Services. The goal is to create a fast, clean, and relatively inexpensive aerial transportation network to spirit medicines, lab samples, and other supplies to facilities across the nation.
The project, which has received at least $14 million in funding from various business, healthcare organization, and government agency backers, has recruited drone delivery companies Skyports and Dronamics in the effort.
Hosting the inaugural trial flights was AGS Airports, which operates Scotland’s air transport platforms in Aberdeen, Southampton, and Glasgow – the latter acting as one terminus in the route linking it with a hospital in suburban Clydebank.
Launched in 2021, the CAELUS program not only seeks to launch the world’s first nation-wide drone delivery network to shuttle urgent payloads between hospitals and clinics in major cities. The equally important objective in the plan is to use developing UAV capacities to also provide medical facilities in Scotland’s remote rural areas with fast transport links to the country’s larger NHS structures.
The successful debut of trial flights in the project, says AGS Airports Group head of strategy and CAELUS project director Fiona Smith, brings Scotland that much closer to the future of routine drone deployment to improve the healthcare people receive.
“The CAELUS project is set to revolutionize the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland,” Smith said. “A drone 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.”
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