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Vodafone begins 4G drone trial that delivers NHS medical supplies

Paul Lipscombe
February 23, 2021

The drones will reduce costs, speed up transport and reduce delivery times

Vodafone UK has begun trialling 4G drone flights that can deliver crucial medical equipment for the NHS Scotland.

The trial went live today (February 23) and will last three months.

It comes as part of a collaboration between Vodafone, Skyports, Deloitte and NHS Scotland.

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.

Vodafone says that the service will increase the frequency of pick-ups and reduce delivery times in some areas of the Argyll and Bute region to 15 minutes, when this would take up to 36 hours previously.

The operator’s 4G network will be used to 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 are able to make on-demand and scheduled requests to use the drones.

Vodafone UK business director Anne Sheehan has called the trial a “big breakthrough”.

“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.”

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