Skylift drones to deliver chemotherapy drugs in the United Kingdom

The National Health Service (NHS) of the has developed a fast and ecologically friendly way to deliver critical chemotherapy medications to distant communities with Skylift drones.

The NHS announced that it will begin testing the use of drones to deliver chemotherapy medications to patients in hard-to-reach areas.

Chemotherapy medications are typically delivered to remote villages by automobile, boat, or helicopter. These forms of transportation are generally slow, which can put pharmaceuticals with limited shelf life at risk.

They also emit considerable quantities of carbon. Meanwhile, Skylift drones can deliver life-saving medications to patients quickly while also assisting the NHS in its objective of being carbon-neutral.

The experiment will begin on the Isle of Wight, a two-mile-long island off England's southern coast. Despite the island's 150,000 inhabitants, chemo medicines must be imported from the mainland. This usually takes a four-hour trip involving “at least two car journeys and one hovercraft or ferry journey,” according to the NHS.

Skylift drones can transfer medications directly from the pharmacy at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS to St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight in a fraction of the time.

Skylift Drones To Deliver Chemotherapy Drugs In The United Kingdom. The Testing Includes Apian'S Fully-Electric Drones, Which Were Built By Skylift. The Drones Can Fly For Up To 1.5 Hours On A Single Charge And Achieve Speeds Of Up To 100 Miles Per Hour.

Apian uses Skylift drones to deliver meds

To prepare for and conduct the study, the NHS has worked with Apian, a medical drone firm founded by former NHS staff. The testing includes Apian's fully-electric drones, which were built by Skylift.

The Skylift drones can fly for up to 1.5 hours on a single charge and achieve speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

They're also autonomous, but three qualified safety pilots will supervise each flight throughout the trial: one at the take-off location, one at the landing spot, and one at Apian's control center, which is overseen by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

“The Island has a long history of innovation,” said Darren Cattell, CEO of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust reportedly. “We are still at a relatively early stage but the use of drones to transport medical supplies is a concept that has radical and positive implications for both the NHS and for patients across the UK as well as the Isle of Wight.”

Despite the fact that the NHS and Apian conducted test flights without payloads last year, it hopes to begin genuine test deliveries as early as this month. If the test deliveries are successful, the NHS will expand them to Northumbria, an area in northern England.

You can read more stories about how drones are being used for good right here on DroneXL.

Photos courtesy of Apian and Skylift.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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