Delivery trials of medical goods to the Isle of Wight set to recommence next month as authorities look at expanding drone usage
The £8 million programme began last year with the delivery of medical supplies and PPE from Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, to Binstead, near Ryde, using a drone designed by the University of Southampton.
The initial trials were pushed forward to May in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further trials are now planned for April and May of this year.
A meeting of the Solent Transport Joint Committee heard that the specification and programme were being revised following discussions with local authorities and lessons learned from the initial trials.
Solent transport manager Conrad Haigh said the drone could be used to transport time-sensitive medicines, such as cancer treatments, which must be mixed and delivered to patients within five hours.
It could also deliver diagnostic specimens to and from hospitals.
Quality of life
“This may have a significant effect on someone’s quality of life and health benefits,” Haigh said, local media reported.
Haigh said work was progressing quickly with positive results, but that the trials were “treading on ground no one has ever trod”.
The UAV, called Windracers Ultra, which resembles a compact propeller-driven airplane, can make the crossing in about 10 minutes with a load of up to 100kg (220lb).
The trials are funded by the Department for Transport and part of Solent Transport’s Future Transport Zone (FTZ).