A UK-first trial that is connecting two Midlands hospitals by a drone ‘corridor’ has got off to a flying start. Skyfarer Ltd, which is based in Coventry, and partner Medical Logistics UK began the Medical Drone Delivery Beyond Visual Line of Sight trial in October.
The Medical Logistics UK corridor connects 32km of airspace between University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust’s sites in Coventry and Rugby, with more than 24 hours’ worth of flights being completed so far.
A total of more than 1,889km has been flown, including 220km by drone in a single day, without any faults or failures to report.
The trial is being run from Skyfarer’s own hub in the region, which is a space to maintain the drones and to operate the flights between the two hospitals.
The Skyfarer Hub, which acts as the company’s headquarters, contains a soundproof operations room, a picking and packing station, an order management system and a workshop.
The long-term aim of the trial is to help ease the growing pressures on the healthcare system, where there is an ever-expanding need for hospitals to receive and transport time-sensitive medical supplies and samples.
Project Manager for Skyfarer Georgia Hanrahan said: “The first few weeks of the trial have provided an invaluable experience – we were very ambitious in what we wanted to achieve from a technical point of view because we are keen to prove what the drones and the flight corridor are capable of.
“We have already hit some impressive statistics when it comes to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight times and distances, which have all been completed without incident.
“We are now looking forward to the next phases of the trial, focusing on NHS use cases and exploring the value of this technology in further improving the efficiency of transporting time-sensitive items.”
This trial is sponsored and made possible by London-based Medical Couriers, Medical Logistics UK, a leading provider of time-sensitive medical deliveries and personalised on-demand medical tests. It offers national coverage, a competitive pricing structure and the highest standards in the market as it is CQC registered and UKAS accredited.
The company has a keen interest in technology, emission-free solutions and net zero targets, drones were an obvious need to the addition of the 90 per cent electric fleet of medical vehicles, which will increase to 100 per cent by the end of 2023.
The trial has been made possible by consortium partners Phoenix Wings, Altitude Angel, UHCW NHS Trust, Everyware, East Midlands Airport and Airbox Systems.