The UK Space Agency has today backed a healthcare drone start-up founded by NHS staff, to help in the response to COVID-19.
The pandemic has seen the country pulling together, with organisations across the space sector stepping forward to help.
Apian, part of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, aims to establish a network of secure air corridors for electric drones to navigate via satellite-enabled GPS. Each drone will be able to carry COVID-19 samples, test-kits and PPE. This will avoid courier call-out waiting times, free-up NHS staff, reduce unnecessary physical contact and minimise the risk of secondary transmission of the virus.
The project will be based at Broomfield Hospital, part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and will be supported by the local Anglia Ruskin University as the academic partner. Befittingly, the hospital stands on a WW1 Royal Flying Corps Airfield.
Christopher Law, from Apian said: “COVID-19 has highlighted challenges in NHS supply chain logistics. There has never been a better time to create a faster, more dependable and environmentally friendly method of transporting medical supplies. We are confident that by setting up a medical drone delivery service, we’ll be able to fly samples to labs more regularly, reliably and quickly, improving patient health outcomes.”