School meal drone delivery trialled in Scotland

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Drone test for delivering school meals

Schools in remote parts of Argyll and Bute could have school meals delivered by drones if a trial project is successful.

The local council has partnered with drone specialist Skyports to test the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

A UAV has already delivered a fresh meal prepared in Oban to Lochnell Primary, 1.5km (0.93 miles) away.

The council hopes it could offer a new way of giving children in remote areas access to healthy school meals.

The provision of school meals to some rural and remote schools currently relies on traditional transport like vans, taxis and ferries, which can be affected by weather conditions.

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The trial is looking at whether UAVs could help deliver meals to all remote and island schools, reducing current delivery times and costs, and help contingency planning in emergencies.

The UAVs can currently only carry a weight of 3kg (6.6lbs), but this allowed one of them to transport a small tub of “mac and cheese” and a strawberry yoghurt from Oban airport to Lochnell Primary.

A small tub containing Mac and Cheese and a strawberry yoghurt was loaded onto a Skyports drone


 

Louise Chisolm, head teacher at Lochnell Primary School, took delivery of an insulated meal box


 

Argyll and Bute is Scotland’s second largest local authority with 23 inhabited islands.

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Council leader Robin Currie said: “We are committed to connecting remote and island communities to vital mainland services.

“Argyll and Bute is the perfect location to test the efficiency of drone technology.”

Skyports drone carrying school meals leaving Oban Airport

The trials are part of the council’s wider plan to create a UAV Innovations logistics Hub at Oban Airport.

The council recently secured UK government funding for a plans “vertiport” vertical take-off and landing facility, due to be completed by March 2025.

Alex Brown, Head of Drone Deliveries at Skyports, said the trial was an important stage in the development of deliveries of this type.

He said: “Initial flights, carried out using one of our Swoop Aero Kookaburra III aircraft, will enable us to complete important proof of concept and feasibility trials

“While the aircraft has a aximum payload of 3kg – clearly not sufficient for feeding a classroom of hungry students – the learnings from this early stage of the project will help to pave the way for wider-scale operations.”

The payload limit is linked to current regulations the size of drone operated, but the company is hopeful that may change in the coming years.

Skyports will demonstrate the use of drones at the Oban Airport open day on 25 June.


 


 

 




 

JULY VOUCHER
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