Medical drone depicting NHS Scotland's drone network

Successful medical drone trials for NHS Scotland

The launch of the UK’s first national healthcare drone distribution network has moved one step closer after the completion of a successful flight trial in West Scotland.

The initiative, known as project CAELUS, is a collaboration between several organisations but spearheaded by AGS Airports and NHS Scotland, backed by funding from UK Research and Innovation. AGS Airports owns and operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.

The partnership, which also includes the University of Strathclyde, aims to deliver the first national drone network for the transportation of medicines, blood and other important medical supplies across Scotland.

Last week saw live flying take place between Glasgow Airport and NHS Golden Jubilee.

“This work has the potential to greatly improve our services closer to home.”

The NHS’s joint innovation lead for project CAELUS, Karen Bell, said: "We are delighted to have had a successful flight trial here in the West Coast of Scotland. Years of preparation with all of our partners have taken us to this point.”

Since securing £1.5m of investment in 2020, project CAELUS partners have designed drone landing stations across NHS Scotland sites – this is accompanied by a virtual model of this network, which connects everything from hospitals and pathology labs to distribution centres and GP surgeries.

The University of Strathclyde’s principal investigator for the project, Dr Marco Fossati, added: “It’s exciting to see the next significant phase of Project CAELUS underway, with live flight trials bringing a potentially revolutionary new mode of medical transport one step closer.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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