As demand for quick access to goods and supplies increases amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Windracers took a big step as its ULTRA UAV successfully completed a medical delivery run from Land’s End to the Isles of Scilly.
Windracers ULTRA completed a 50kg payload UAV flight between Land’s End and the Isle of Scilly in the UK as part of a response to support the NHS with COVID-19 logistics.
The drone is the only operational UAV with the capacity to carry a 100kg payload over a distance of 1000km.
The UAV’s 50kg payload consisted entirely of medical supplies, which it delivered directly to St Mary’s NHS in 30 minutes.
Cllr Robert Francis, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: “We’re delighted that Windracers has chosen to trial a delivery drone on the route between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“Being a remote island community, the airlink to the mainland is a lifeline and a drone service has the potential to provide our residents and businesses with greater resilience, particularly during the winter months and in periods of bad weather.
“It also offers the possibility of speeding up time-sensitive and urgent deliveries. We’ll be monitoring the success of this trial with interest.”
In the past year a great importance has been placed on quick access to medical supplies and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led companies to look for new technology that will reduce delivery times.
Funding of £100,000 from AeroSpace Cornwall will enable the development of the ULTRA drone to further capacity and accelerate the use of drone delivery for humanitarian aid across the globe.
James Fairbairn, Business Development Manager of AeroSpace Cornwall, said: “It is fantastic to see this innovative technology being piloted from Cornwall.
“Windracers ULTRA UAV offers a vital point of connection during the pandemic and beyond, and this successful trial is the first step in tapping into the possibilities of drone delivery for humanitarian aid.
“We are very excited to see Windracers develop the capabilities of the ULTRA UAV further with our match funding.”
The ULTRA UAV had already completed a trial across the Solent Water from Solent Airport to the Isle of Wight during the first UK national lockdown.
It was following this success that Windraces were awarded further funding to test its technology in Cornwall.
Charles Scales, CEO of Windracers, said: “There have been many logistical challenges for the NHS and with these unique CAA permissions, this will be the first time a large, useful, economic, load carrying UAV is used between the Isles of Scilly and mainland Cornwall.
“We can help remove a few of the straining blockages to deliver efficient NHS logistics. We are very proud to be part of this ground-breaking project.”
Normally, medical supplies are transported between the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly via ferries, which are currently operating on a reduced service as a result of Covid-19.