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Vodafone starts 4G drone trial to deliver medical supplies

To speed up transport, reduce costs and delivery times, Vodafone UK has started the trial of 4G drone flights that can deliver crucial medical equipment for the NHS Scotland.

The initiative is a collaboration between Vodafone, Skyports, Deloitte and NHS Scotland.

The trial started on February 23 and will be on for the next three months.

It is expected to improve healthcare services for people living on the west coast of Scotland and significantly improve the speed of transport, cut costs and reduce delivery times.

According to Vodafone, the service will drastically increase the pick-up frequency and cut short delivery times in some areas of the Argyll and Bute region to 15 minutes as compared to 36 hours it normally takes.

The operator’s 4G networks will identify and locate the drone in real-time at Skyports operations centre.

Vodafone’s network will work alongside existing GPS location systems, to ensure connectivity coverage is provided at all times.

This trial is being remotely piloted from the Skyports operations centre in Argyll and Bute automatically using predefined routes.

Using a web customer interface developed by Deloitte, NHS staff can make on-demand and scheduled requests to use the drones.

Commenting on the service, Vodafone UK business director Anne Sheehan said, “This is an amazing use of technology to overcome geographical boundaries. The trial is a big breakthrough, and we hope that we will see drone flights make a real difference for the NHS and for patients in the most remote parts of the UK.”