A group working to set up a Drone Emergency Medical Airbridge between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the United Kingdom to support the current medical supply chain of the National Health Service ( NHS) has received a share of £33 million ($43.5 million USD) in funding from the UK government to use drones to address major global challenges. As part of this project, drones will be used to deliver test kits for PPE and COVID-19.
Funding secured to deliver test kits for PPE and COVID-19 by drone
DronePrep, based at Worcestershire’s BetaDen technology accelerator in Malvern, is a partnership awarded a share of the initial £ 7 million in funding to help the project to bring vital PPE and Covid-19 test kits to disadvantaged remote regions in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly using unmanned aerial vehicles.
The funds will help support drone-based delivery of PPE and COVID-19 testing kits to the Isles of Scilly. The islands, with a population of around 2,100 inhabitants, are an archipelago off the Cornish coast in southwestern England. The Isle of Scilly registered its first COVID-19 positive test at the end of September. Leading up to that, there were no positive results for the location, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. Registered cases have been climbing since October in Cornwall itself.
Two drone delivery companies, Windracers and Skyports, that have worked in response to the UK COVID-19 challenge before, will work together for the first time. Long-range, large payload drones and vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) drones will be used in combination for the first time in the UK as part of the DronePrep project to allow drone deliveries to be point-to-point and inter-island.
Funding was provided to the same group of companies earlier in the year by the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the Future Transport Zone (FTZ) project with the goals of transporting medical supplies and equipment to St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight from Southampton General Hospital via the Solent Airport. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) fast-tracked that trial in March as the country’s first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone delivery service, involving a Windracers ULTRA UAV drone, reports Security Magazine.
“The project to be funded by this new funding is a perfect example of how opening up low-level airspace in a secure and organized way can benefit the health and well-being of communities in areas of difficult access,” said DronePrep’s co-founder, Gareth Whatmore.
The funding comes from the Government’s Future Flight Challenge, which aims to increase mobility , reduce dependence on road transport and generate greater manufacturing opportunities in the United Kingdom. This first-wave of funding is used to promote new solutions using the latest technology to support the fight against COVID-19, and other challenges such as climate change.
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