Drone to deliver masks to Isle of Mull hospital

Drone Skyports

Caption of the image

The two-week trial will use a large delivery drone

Drone technology is to be used to provide protective equipment in a hospital on a Scottish island.

Over the next two weeks, masks and a fictitious cargo will be flown between Oban on the mainland Argyll and the Isle of Mull.

The 10-mile journey, which normally involves road travel and 45-minute ferry sailing, should only take 15 minutes.

The trial could pave the way for drones to be used in the transportation of medical test samples and other supplies.

The project, which involves Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, the drone delivery company Skyports and Thales, has requested a special authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Normally drones can only fly in line with the pilot.

Caption of the image

Sophisticated technology will be used to control the drone when it is not visible to its operator

The drone will fly between the Lorn and the Oban Islands District General Hospital and the Mull and Iona Community Hospital in Craignure.

Joanna Macdonald, CEO of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Using drones offers real opportunities to improve services and will allow faster diagnosis for our patients.”

The project, heavily regulated by the CAA, was accelerated by the onset of coronavirus.

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said: “Delivery drones are a quick and reliable solution for essential medical supplies.”

He added: “Skyports is proud to assist the NHS in Scotland with its Covid-19 response, helping to provide the essential health care that people need in the hardest to reach areas.

“Our trial in Argyll and Bute provides an important short-term response to the current pandemic and lays the foundation from which to grow a permanent drone delivery operation through a network of healthcare facilities across the country.”

The trial is expected to last until June 5.

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