Until now, air cargo logistics has mainly been about finding a large plane to transport goods in big numbers, but the delivery of Coronavirus samples and medical kit by drone technology this week may act as an indicator of things to come.
While aircraft can only be used when the delivery is a large one, this was never going to be the optimal way of getting the supplies to a small Scottish island.
The island, which has not been named, can be reached by the drone in just 15 minutes, when a normal trip from the mainland would require a 36-hour journey by road and ferry to take the supplies from their source, the Scotsman reports.
Operated by Skysports after being granted a licence by the Civil Aviation Authority, the drone will connect remote locations with four medical centres: The Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban, Mid-Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead, Easdale Medical Practice on the island of Clachan Seil and the Mull and Iona Community Hospital in Craignure.
With a range of up to 40 miles, the drones will transport up to 3KG of medical supplies in each trip, including test samples, PPE, testing kits and medicines.
Skysports chief executive Duncan Walker remarked: “Using drone deliveries within supply chains can create significant time and cost savings. This initiative is a natural progression from our recent trials with the NHS in Scotland.”
Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership spokesperson Stephen Whiston said the body was delighted to be working to explore “how unmanned drones can enhance our logistics operations and improve services for patients and clinicians in some of our most remote and island communities”.
The area on the west coast of Scotland includes a large number of islands that can only be reached from the mainland by air or ferry, with Clachan Seil being an exception due to the ‘Bridge across the Atlantic’ connecting it to the mainland over a narrow sea channel.