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NATS-backed drone distribution consortium wins top Scottish Transport Award

Project CAELUS, the project to deliver what will be the UK’s first medical distribution network using drones, won the Excellence in Technology and Innovation award at this year’s Scottish Transport Awards ceremony in Glasgow.

CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland), which brings together 16 partners including NATS, AGS Airports, the University of Strathclyde and NHS Scotland, secured £10.1 million funding from the Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

In winning the award, Project CAELUS consortia members were praised by Scottish Transport Award judges for their innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fiona Smith, AGS Airports Group Head of Aerodrome Strategy and CAELUS Project Director, said: “We were delighted when we heard we had been shortlisted in the Scottish Transport Awards earlier this year so to win is a fantastic achievement.

“The CAELUS project is set to revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. A drones network can ensure critical medical supplies can be delivered more efficiently, it can reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, it can provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities.

“This award is testament to the hard work by all the partners involved in this consortium and I thank them all as we continue onto the next phase of work.”

Tharaka Kothalawala, NATS lead for the Future Flight Challenge, said: “We’re excited to be leading the airspace management work of Project CAELUS, which will deliver the first national drone network to transport essential medical supplies throughout Scotland – an example of how uncrewed aviation can support the NHS and really make a difference. 

“We’ll be developing the concepts for how airspace could be managed, and the procedures required to safely integrate a network of multiple drones with existing flight operations, and then putting those concepts to the test in a live trial with our consortium partners.  

Well done to all the consortium partners involved for their hard work during the project so far, and their continued commitment to making CAELUS a success.  This is a ground-breaking project that will shape the way our skies are used in the future, and we’re delighted to be a part of it.”

Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth MSP and Scottish Transport Awards host Grant Scott welcomed 450 industry professionals to the Glasgow event last night<29 September> to celebrate the people and organisations that make a real difference to transport across Scotland.

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