UK using drones to send coronavirus tests to remote Scottish islands

The drone can travel between Oban and the Isle of Mull in 15 minutes

Coronavirus tests are being delivered by drone

The UK’s new Space Agency funding will be used to support drones that deliver coronavirus testing kits to a Scottish island.

Skyports, the company behind the drones, started a two-week trial in May with NHS Highland, which serves a group of islands off the west coast of Scotland.

The technology was able to cut delivery times between Oban and the Isle of Mull to around 15 minutes, instead of going via road and taking a 45-minute ferry crossing.

An initial £2.6 million was made available by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency (ESA) to find and support space-enabled technologies and services that can support the NHS response to coronavirus.

Skyports along with two other initiatives have been awarded a share of £1.1 million in funding, while the rest is open to bids until the end of September.

The other winners include Isolation +, which uses space-derived data to identify and support vulnerable people.

Stay, another of the projects to be given funding, is an app being developed to help charities supporting young people's mental health and wellbeing.

It uses satellite communications and Earth observation satellites to reward young people with 'badges' - which will be linked to rewards, discounts or other incentives - for acting positively.

“I'm proud of how our world-leading space sector is stepping up to provide innovative solutions to directly support our amazing NHS, as we continue our national effort to tackling coronavirus”, Science minister Amanda said in a statement.

“The projects we are backing today show UK ingenuity at its finest, and will make a real difference to how we use this latest innovative technology to deliver critical healthcare now and long into the future.”

“The NHS Long Term Plan is bringing new technologies into the NHS to improve patient care and save lives, and as we deal with the greatest challenge in the NHS's history, innovation in medicine and convenient, faster technology are helping frontline staff to give people world-leading treatment for Covid-19 alongside care for killer conditions including cancer”, Professor Tony Young, the NHS national clinical lead for innovation, also said.

As well as delivering coronavirus tests, Skyports also intends to “[buy] up London rooftops for the burgeoning drone delivery market.

The company believes that “vertiports” will be as common as parking spaces for cars and bikes.

However, that will only happen once drone regulation has been decided on.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in