Editor choice


Tests of unmanned aircraft for the delivery of medicines have started

Chemotherapy drugs and blood samples are among the items that have been transported on Swoop Aero Kookaburra III drones in the skies over Northumberland since yesterday. The trials are being conducted by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Apian, a medical drone startup that is funding the trials.

After obtaining permission from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to conduct BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations in isolated airspace, test flights are conducted from February 13 to May 12 (weekdays only) on the route from the Main Hospital in Ashington to hospitals in Alnwick and Berwick.

The use of drones can shorten delivery times, increase efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. During the trial, logistical data will be collected and the impact on the experience of patients and hospital staff will be assessed.

In a statement, James Mackie, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Given the territory we cover and the number of hospitals and other facilities we manage, having effective logistics to deliver goods to where they need to be is vital. The use of drones can help us deliver important medicines and supplies in a more efficient and reasonable way, so we are looking forward to the results of test flights. We strive to provide as much medical care as possible in our remote localities, so logistics routes to Alnwick and Berwick are a key focus."

The project uses fully electric aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Swoop Aero Kookaburra III. These vehicles weigh 17 kg, can carry up to 3 kg of payload and reach a maximum speed of 110 km/h. The drones are operated by Skyports Drone Services, which was selected by Apian as the operator for this part of the tests.

At the initial stage of the tests, 6 flights per day will be carried out, and at the end of the tests, the number of flights will increase to 15. UAVs not only deliver chemotherapy drugs to Alnwick and Berwick, but also take pathology samples from there, delivering them to the Main Hospital in Ashington. Blood bags, prescriptions, medical equipment and mail can also be delivered.

Apian's co-founder and medical director, Dr. Christopher Lowe, said: "This trial builds on the results of Apian's work in the Solent, where we delivered the UK's first prescription drugs using a drone. While there is still a lot of work to be done before UAVs can operate autonomously in non-segregated airspace, Apian has yet to collect as much and even more evidence of how on-demand delivery can affect healthcare as well as our personal lives."

Share with friends:

Write and read comments can only authorized users