News | 10 Jul 2020

Drones to deliver COVID-19 medical supplies in Scotland using 4G

Vodafone UK has partnered with Skyports and Deloitte to transport medical supplies for NHS Scotland using drones. The drone flights will be live later this year and will use Vodafone’s 4G network and Skyports’ space-based technology.

The newly announced project will support the NHS response to COVID-19, with the aim of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Amanda Jane Solloway, Conservative Party politician and Science Minister for the UK Government, said: “I’m proud of how our world-leading space sector is stepping up to provide innovative solutions to directly support our amazing NHS, as we continue our national effort to tackling coronavirus.”

Before the end of the year, medical supplies including medicine, personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing kits will be flown to hospitals and medical practices on remote Scottish Islands Argyll and Bute.

It currently takes up to 48 hours to transport vital medical supplies. Using satellite-guided drones flying along pre-defined routes, timings will significantly decrease to just 30 minutes. A report Vodafone commissioned earlier this year also found that, on average, it’s 95% cheaper to use drones than couriers for transportation.

Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business UK, said: “There will be huge benefits from the use of drones connected to the mobile network that can be flown safely and securely beyond line of sight.

“This is a brilliant example of how using connected drones can radically change the way things are done, and really change people’s lives.”

The NHS’s national clinical lead for innovation, Tony Young, welcomed the new technology, saying: “The NHS Long Term Plan is bringing new technologies into the NHS to improve patient care and save lives.

“As we deal with the greatest challenge in the NHS’s history, innovation in medicine and convenient, faster technology is helping frontline staff to give people world-leading treatment for COVID-19 alongside care for killer conditions including cancer.”

To read more on how Vodafone UK is keeping the UK connected click here.