AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, is leading a consortium that will develop and trial what will be the UK’s first national distribution network to use drones to transport essential medicines, blood, organs and other medical supplies throughout Scotland.
The AGS led consortium, which brings together 14 organisations including the University of Strathclyde, and leading air traffic control provider NATS, successfully secured £1.5 million from the UK Industrial Strategy Future Flight Challenge Fund to demonstrate how autonomous drone technology can enhance access to essential medical supplies, particularly in rural parts of Scotland. This funding was secured as part of the Future Flight Challenge, a £125 million portfolio to develop greener ways to fly such as all-electric aircraft and deliveries by drone by advancing electric and autonomous flight technologies, under Phase 2 of the programme which specifically focuses on feasibility.
The CAELUS (Care & Equity - Logistics UAS Scotland) project commenced on 1st December 2020 and will culminate in live drone flight trials within Scotland. In addition to developing the ground infrastructure needed to recharge the drones and the systems to control them while flying, a key aspect of the project will be designing pathways to ensure the drones can safely share airspace with civil aviation. The project will also ensure critical aspects such as public safety, security and noise levels are considered.
A digital blue print of the drone delivery network will be created with the potential to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland.
The project is scheduled to run until Spring 2022.
More on the UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenger can be found on the UKRI website: Future flight challenge – UKRI
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CAELUS brings together primes, small and micro enterprises and RTOs in a project where complementary individual competencies and track records are combined together synergistically to deliver innovation in the use of autonomous electric UAVs. Covering UAV manufacturers, UTM and ATM service providers, airport and UTM operators, ATM modernisation specialists, energy providers and infrastructure designers, medical packaging manufacturers, business, market and social analysts and experts in digital modelling and simulations, CAELUS has it all covered. The size and reputation of the organisations in CAELUS ensures credibility in its ambition and capability to deliver innovation.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. The fund was created to provide funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next 4 years. It was designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation.