The Irish drone company, Manna Aero, is seeking drone medical delivery trials in the UK.
After tests in March to deliver fast food to Dublin University College students, trials that were postponed due to Covid-19, the company next set up plans to distribute medicines to residents in the small rural town of Moneygall. The BBC Website reports these Irish flights are going straight to homes and are the final stage of a “closed loop” end-to-end system the company says is a first.
How it works: Local GPs write prescriptions after a video consultation, which drones then drop off at patients’ homes. The craft can also deliver essential supplies – such as milk or bread – to those who are not supposed to go outside. Moneygall resident, 70 year-old Fidelma Gleeson, commented, “It’s absolutely brilliant. I thought I would never see the day there would be such technology that I wouldn’t have to be driving into town and back up to get my medicine.”
Dr Colm O’Reilly, a GP in nearby Toomevara, explained it was “A great assistance in a rural area where there may not be as much support as you might have in the city”. He added, “In these troubled times, it’s great to see how technology is coming together to assist us in helping our patients.” These tests have only just started.
Manna Aero CEO, Bobby Healy, says he wants to bring the trials to the UK to “show people what we can do – perhaps work with the NHS”. He continues, “We are actually looking to do that in the next few weeks – on the assumption that lockdown is going to continue.”
The company’s drones which are produced in Wales, can carry up to 4kg packages in its cassette-loaded cargo bay, the size of a large shoebox. “We’re not going to be selling hamburgers,” Mr Healy continues. “But basic necessities that elderly people need.”
The mobile command centre for the craft is based at Barack Obama Plaza, a motorway services renamed in 2011 when the US president came to visit the home of one of his Irish ancestors. Manna Aero says it is equipped to handle up to 100 deliveries a day and with some 500 towns in the Irish Republic of roughly the same size, it hopes the Moneygall test will “validate the concept” for rural deliveries across Ireland and the UK.
“It’s about proving that if there’s a world in future where you need to do a lockdown, at scale, that drones can be a massive solution,” Mr Healy concludes.
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