Medical

UK’s first medical drone network scoops technology and innovation award

17th October 2022
Paige West

The project CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland) is working to deliver the first national drone network that can transport medicines, bloods, and other supplies throughout Scotland.

It will be the UK’s first medical distribution network using drones and it even plans to reach remote communities.

The project’s consortium is led by AGC Airports, in partnership with NHS Scotland and brings together 16 partners, including the University of Strathclyde.

The project impressed at the Scottish Transport Awards, where Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth MSP and host Grant Stott welcomed 450 industry professionals to celebrate the people and organisations that make a real difference to transport across Scotland.

It was named the winner of the Excellence in Technology and Innovation.

Principal Investigator Dr Marco Fossati, of the Aerospace Centre of Excellence at the University of Strathclyde, said: “This award recognises innovation and dedication of the Project CAELUS team and the potentially transformative impact we can have on Scotland’s healthcare system.

“The consortium’s work aims to revolutionises the accessibility of the medical supply chain through investment and research in technology.”

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 drone 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.”

The consortium has designed drone landing stations for NHS sites across Scotland and developed a digital twin of the proposed delivery network which connects hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland.

CAELUS secured £10.1 million funding from the Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in July launch its next phase, which will involve live flight trials and removing remaining barriers to safely using drones at scale within Scotland’s airspace.

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