Drone deliveries are something of a contentious issue with the UK public. A recent survey by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers entitled ‘Public Perceptions: Drones’, only 23% of those surveyed support drone deliveries, citing fears over package thefts, accidents in the sky, and invasion of privacy as the main reasons for their reticence.
Against this somewhat bleak backdrop, it is clear that plans being formed by Solent Transport to pioneer drone deliveries of blood samples and chemotherapy kits to four hospitals across the South East of England, are likely to be far from straightforward. However, such plans are in the making with plans afoot to trial the scheme with dummy payloads while ethical and safety concerns are addressed.
The Authorities see UAVs as being able to provide an improved patient service, especially in time sensitive situations and are looking to move supplies between hospitals in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. The service would potentially then be expanded to include moving blood samples from GP surgeries to hospital laboratories and even to supply chemotherapy kits to St Mary’s on the Isle of Wight to save patients the time, expense and inconvenience of having to travel to Southampton General.
Resistance to drone deliveries is partially blamed on negative press coverage with there being a widely recognised need for a public education programme – raising awareness of what drones are capable of, of the current laws and the authorities that can enforce them is predicted to go a long way in raising levels of confidence in this relatively new technology. It will be interesting to see what the CAA bring to the table in the form of their planned public education campaign that they plan on launching in the Summer of 2020.
The potential benefits of using drones to move medical supplies and samples are apparent and so perhaps it is more comforting to look to a recent PWC survey that said that 80% of the public supported the use of drones where there was a risk or benefit to human life.