Medical drone delivery among £90m trials by government
The government is trial new technology in the hopes of making transport smarter and greener.
The tests, part of the Future of Transport regulatory review, will consider changes to everyday travel to reduce the amount of traffic, including a test of currently illegal electronic scooters.
Alongside the review, a £90m funding boost will lead real-world testing for experts, allowing them to work with local bodies such as councils, hospitals, airports and universities to test new options for transporting people and goods.
The three new zones set to receive a share of the funding are in Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, and Derby and Nottingham. They will join the existing West Midlands future of transport zone.
One of the projects tested will see drones carrying medical supplies from clinics on the Isle of Wight to hospitals on the mainland. The test hopes to show faster diagnoses than by ferries or roads. If successful, drones could be used to transport chemotherapy kits.
Medical drones have been tested before by the UK’s Royal Navy. Last year saw a partnership between its Royal Marines Commando force and defence technology company Anduril Industries (pictured above).
The government will also consult on the use of electronic scooters or ‘e-scooters’ and the impact they may have on UK transport.
Last year Scandinavian e-scooter firm VOI was among many e-scooter firms hoping to push for greater adoption of the travel technology. It met with UK transport policy makers in July of 2019 in a bid to bring the trend to UK roads.
Requirements for both e-scooters and those using them are being explored to make sure they are safe for use on roads. This includes a minimum age and vehicle standards as well as insurance requirements.
The review will also consider if local authorities should have extra powers to manage the impacts of e-scooters on public space, for example where they can be parked.