Today, Government announced they have backed a plan that will see ‘space-enabled’ drones delivering COVID-19 test kits and technology, using ‘space data’ to fly testing kids to vulnerable people; using UK Space Agency funding.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway unveiled details of the three new projects that were selected as part of a joint initiative between the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency. The initiative aims to find space-enabled technologies that can support the NHS response to coronavirus.
Scottish ‘space company’ Skyports will be working with NHS Highland on one project, to try and use drones to deliver medical supplies and testing samples from a hospital on the Argyll and Bute mainland.
The ‘space-enabled’ Drones will use mobile, satellite communications and GPS, combined with Earth observation data, to chart courses more areas of the mainland and other islands in an effort to help reach remote medical practices.
The usage of the term Space here is used more in the context of data flowing from satellites from space to the drone or operator, as opposed to the drone actually going into space. We do not believe that any civilian companies in the UK have the ability to send drones into space, yet.
Science Minister Amanda Soloway said: “The projects we are backing today show UK ingenuity at its finest and will make a real difference to how we use this latest innovative technology to deliver critical healthcare now and long into the future.”
Government initially made £2.6 million available the initiative and have so far paid out £1.1 million. The UK Space Agency and ESA are still open to further bids with the call for ideas open until 30 September 2020.
News of this innovative potential solution for sending COVID19 support to the most remote areas and islands of the UK; although you have to wonder exactly how many people have caught Coronavirus in these areas, and if so, how did it get there while lockdowns were in place?