The drones, which fly automatically, take between 10-30 minutes to deliver the supplies depending on the location, and are ideal for flying to island locations because they can fly quickly over water and mountains as opposed to lorries.
“As Covid has shown, logistics in health services are a real challenge,” said Emily Gravestock, head of applications at the UK Space Agency. “So we’re very keen to use innovative solutions such as drones to make logistics more green and efficient.”
“The priority now is light-weight testing kits and vital medicines that can be transported quickly, efficiently and safely,” she told The Telegraph. “The long-term vision is that there are centralised points that are shared,” she added, meaning that hospitals don’t waste space on storage rooms.
The new funding from the agency will also support a Musselburgh-based project called Isolation+ that uses data from space to identify and support vulnerable or elerderly people who may be suffering from poverty or loneliness, something that is of particular concern due to the pandemic.
“One of the great things here is you can use space data and really help vulnerable people. Not just with Covid tests but with poverty,” said Ms Gravestock.
Using space data, such as thermal data to see whether properties are warm or movement data to see what traffic is like, people who may be struggling but not getting help can be identified and targeted for support.