Isle of Wight drone NHS-supply trials resume

Trials to use drones for delivering NHS medical supplies to the Isle of Wight will resume next month.

In May last year an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was successfully tested to take PPE from Lee-on-the-Solent, in Hampshire, to Binstead, near Ryde.

The trial had been brought forward because of the Covid-19 pandemic but it is hoped in future the drones will be able to transport blood and organs.

Further tests are planned in April and May as part of the £8m programme.

The UAV, designed by the University of Southampton, can make the crossing to the Isle of Wight in about 10 minutes.

It is hoped it would eventually improve the movement of time-critical supplies such as cancer treatments, which have to be mixed and delivered to patients within five hours, or the delivery of test specimens.

At a meeting of the Solent Transport Joint Committee, transport manager Conrad Haigh said the work was moving at a high pace but was “treading on ground no one has ever trod”, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The trials have been funded by the Department for Transport, and part of Solent Transport’s Future Transport Zone (FTZ).

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