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Space-Enabled Drones Deliver Rapid Coronavirus Response

A Skyports satellite-guided drone mid-flight.

Satellite-enabled drones have accelerated the provision of life-saving medical supplies at National Health Service hospitals in Scotland, boosting the countrys efforts to combat COVID-19.

Credit: Skyports

In collaboration with the U.K. National Health Service and with support from the European Space Agency and the U.K. Space Agency, London-based air mobility company Skyports used satellite-enabled drones to transport coronavirus tests and samples, medicines, and equipment between medical practices in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

The drones reduced average transport time from 21 hours by road to 60 minutes.

A global space-based navigation system provided coordinates and altitude levels that were used to pre-program the drones' flight paths.

Ground operators were able to monitor aerial progress using telecommunications satellites and take control as necessary.

Skyports' Alex Brown said, "During the project, our drones flew over 14,000 km beyond the visual line of sight, saving over 11,000 hours in time spent waiting for samples. This demonstrates the reliability and robustness of our service, and the huge potential it has to improve healthcare outcomes in remote communities."

From European Space Agency
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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