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As part of the two-week trial, drone delivery specialist Skyports will transport the supplies between Oban on the Scottish mainland and a hospital on the island of Mull. The distance between Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban and Iona Community Hospital in Craignure on Mull is 10 miles.
At the moment, transporting medical supplies and specimens from the laboratory in Oban and the hospital on Mull involves a long and complicated journey by sea and road, according to Skyports.
“This service will see delivery times cut from up to 6 hours one-way by ground transport and ferry to around 15 minutes, on-demand, by drone, bringing considerable savings in terms of time and resource, as well as contributing to keeping front line medical and delivery personnel safe,” Skyports said in a statement.
“The use of drones provides real opportunities to improve services and will help enable quicker diagnosis for our patients,” said Joanna Macdonald, chief officer for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, in the statement.
Skyport will use drones supplied by unmanned aircraft maker Wingcopter and harness a drone management system from aerospace company Thales.
NHS Scotland and the local government are also involved in the trial, along with the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport.
With 262,547 cases and 36,996 deaths, the U.K. is one of the most impacted countries by the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
This is not the first time that drones have been used to transport medical supplies. DHL, for example, is involved in a project to deliver medical supplies by drones in Tanzania.
Earlier this year, UPS partnered with U.S. drone delivery specialist DroneUp to test the delivery of medical supplies by drone on the abandoned campus of Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va.
As of Tuesday morning, over 5.51 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, with over 1.66 million of them in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The disease has accounted for over 346,700 deaths around the world, including more than 98,000 in the U.S.
Fox News’ Rebecca Kesten contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers