COVID-19 Response Article in full
On Saturday 9th May 2020, a consignment of medical supplies became the first cargo to be carried by drone across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. The cargo was then delivered to the Pathology Department at St Marys Hospital on the island.
The Windracers ULTRA drone, which was designed and built by engineers at the University of Southampton, completed the 13-minute journey from Lee-on-the-Solent to Binfield . A consignment of specialist insulated cases was unloaded and driven to St Mary’s Hospital.
The flight was part of a new trial by Solent Transport, the University of Southampton and Windracers which has been accelerated into motion by the Department for Transport for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funded by the Department for Transport, the trial is part of Solent Transport’s Future Transport Zone project which is exploring how the Windracers ULTRA drone designed and built by the University of Southampton for Windracers, can provide a way to transport medical supplies to St Marys Hospital from the mainland. It will be a back up to the existing delivery routes which currently use the ferry service.
“This is a huge milestone with not only the aircraft designed at the University but also the entire avionics system, including a ground-breaking, robust and reliable master-less autopilot system”Jim Scanlan, Professor of Design at the University of Southampton
‘This first flight has been invaluable in showing how the logistics at either end will have to operate to tie in with the drone operations. This will all contribute to the learning process of how such autonomous systems will function alongside traditional supply chains in the future’Tom Cherrett, Professor of Logistics and Transport Management at the University of Southampton
“We are very excited to support this ground-breaking trial of aerial drone delivery of medical supplies, which will help improve access to healthcare and save lives.”Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Southampton Cabinet Member for Place & Transport and Chair of Solent Transport Joint Committee