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The University of Southampton

Cargo drone delivers first medical supplies across Solent in COVID-19 trial

Published: 14 May 2020
Cargo drone for covid
Initial flights of the Windracers ULTRA will carry loads of up to 40kg

Pathologists on the Isle of Wight have received a first delivery of medical equipment flown across the Solent in a future transport drone trial.

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 on Saturday afternoon. 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.

Jim Scanlan, Professor of Design at the University of Southampton, says: “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.”

The Windracers ULTRA drone is the largest civilian autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in mixed airspace, with a carrying capacity of up to 100kg in a space around the size of an estate car boot.

Tom Cherrett, Professor of Logistics and Transport Management, says: “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.”

Read the full story on the main news page.


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