Scottish Island Hospital Tests 10-Mile Drone Delivery of Protective Equipment

By Gary Cutlack on at

What looks like a proper, useful, and entirely legitimate trial of drone delivery technology (rather than an advert for a pizza company) is about to take place on the Isle of Mull, where the local hospital will take delivery of protective equipment by air.

The Isle of Mull is only accessible via two passenger ferries, both of which are running massively reduced services due to the lockdown of the tourism industry and Scottish advice not to travel. A drone skips that step and allows supplies to be delivered direct, in a straight line, from the larger hospital on the mainland in Oban, taking 15 minutes instead of the nearest ferry's usual 45. It's a 10-mile run, though, meaning the usual line-of-sight drone rules are being waived here in order to allow the test.

The drone is supplied by Skyports and operates on the systems of military tech firm Thales, with permission for the sightless run coming from the very top of the Civil Aviation Authority. Duncan Walker from Skyports said: "Delivery drones are a fast and reliable solution for vital medical supplies. Skyports is proud to assist the NHS in Scotland with their Covid-19 response, helping to provide the essential healthcare that people need in harder-to-reach areas."

The trial starts on June 5. [Skyports via BBC]