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Press release: Next phase of project CAELUS to develop UK’s first medical delivery drone network


AGS Airports leads consortium including NHS Scotland for innovative project 

A consortium led by AGS Airports in partnership with NHS Scotland to deliver what will be the UK’s first medical distribution network using drones has launched its next phase.

CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland), secured £10.1 million funding from the Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) last month.

To celebrate, consortium members, stakeholders and politicians gathered at Glasgow Airport for the official launch and to hear more details of the project timelines and work so far.

Scottish Government Public Health Minister Maree Todd provided the key note speech at the event which had a number of exhibitions on show from partners.

CAELUS brings together 16 partners including the University of Strathclyde, NATS and NHS Scotland. Together they are working to deliver what will be the first national drone network that can transport essential medicines, bloods and other medical supplies throughout Scotland including to remote communities.

Since securing £1.5 million in January 2020, the CAELUS consortium has designed drone landing stations for NHS sites across Scotland and developed a virtual model (digital twin) of the proposed delivery network which connects hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland.

NHS Scotland has said it will bring its “Once for Scotland” approach to the project, the second phase of which will involve live flight trials and removing remaining barriers to safely using drones at scale within Scotland’s airspace.

Fiona Smith, AGS Airports Group Head of Aerodrome Strategy and CAELUS Project Director, said: “We were delighted when we heard we were receiving the £10.1m funding from UKRI to move onto the next phase of the project.

“The CAELUS project is set to revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. A drones network can ensure critical medical supplies can be delivered more efficiently, it can reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, it can provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities. “

“As well as being able to undertake live flights we can begin to deploy the physical infrastructure needed to support the drones across Scotland. This will involve building prototype landing bases as well as digital and communication infrastructure. We will also work with local communities to ensure they understand why and how the drones will be used.”

Live flight trials will be operated by CAELUS consortium member Skyports. The UK-based drone services provider is an experienced operator of medical and dangerous goods cargo flights. The company was instrumental to early trial flights with NHS Scotland in 2020 and 2021, completing over 12,000 of flight hours in the region to date.

David Janner-Klausner, Co-Founder at Commonplace, said: "Commonplace is proud to be part of this innovative project, set to revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. Our online community engagement platform will enable people to access information about the proposals and provide feedback and suggestions.

Our work on this project follows hundreds of community engagement projects, including the GATEway project which tested public reaction to driverless passenger transport pods in Greenwich, London. Ensuring critical medical supplies can be delivered more efficiently, and providing equity of care between urban and remote rural communities, fits perfectly with our social impact goals. We are excited to get started!"

NHS Grampian's Program Lead for Innovation, Hazel Dempsey, said: " We are incredibly excited to be the lead board for this high-end innovative project.

"Our aim, from an NHS perspective, is to test the use of drone technology in urban, remote, rural and island landscapes. We want to test if using drones to will improve important aspects of our logistics service, for example, to test the transportation of laboratory samples, blood products, chemotherapy, and medicine delivery. Ultimately, we want to explore if drone technology can speed up diagnosis and treatment of medical problems.

“This has the potential to improve services for those whose care is dependent on rail, ferry or airline timetables and help keep people at home where they can be supported by families and loved ones.

“This project intends to position the United Kingdom and NHS Scotland as a leader in the third revolution in the aviation industry."

David Lowe, National Clinical Director for Innovation added: "This national, exciting 'next stage' programme of work builds on the success of CAELUS 1 launch which focused on the West of Scotland."

The CAELUS consortium comprises:

AGS Airports Limited
ANRA Technologies UK
Cellnex UK
Commonplace Digital
Connected Places Catapult
DGP Intelsius
NHS Scotland
Plane Finder
The Drone Office
Trax International
University of Strathclyde


Media Contact:
Charlotte Cooper
Content Writer
Telephone: 07931283676


Notes to Editors:


Commonplace is an online engagement platform which allows local authorities and developers to connect with the whole community, hear their voices and make better, more inclusive decisions about places and plans. Commonplace identifies what’s important to communities. It pinpoints the key locations and topics local people are talking about, making it easy to integrate feedback into plans. We have launched over 1,800 community engagement projects with their customers, engaging 5.7 million community members across the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.

The company has grown steadily, winning investment and awards, and engaging over 4 million people through more than 1,500 citizen engagement projects. It has set the standard for digital engagement in the UK and overseas, being used by over 100 local government and development organisations to improve community involvement in place making.


Charlotte Cooper

Charlotte Cooper

Content Writer at Commonplace