UK To Invest £2.6 Million In Drone And Satellite Technology To Deliver Vital Supplies During The Coronavirus Pandemic
UK Space Agency (UKSA) has said the UK government is setting aside £2.6 million for new satellite and drone technology that could deliver essential supplies during the Coronavirus lockdown.
The UK government is funding new solutions to deliver equipment such as test kits, masks, gowns and goggles for frontline National Health Service (NHS) staff, Metro UK.
The joint initiative with the European Space Agency could lead to vital equipment soaring through British skies via drones to support the NHS in tackling COVID-19.
Companies can submit their proposals, including ideas for deployment and a pilot phase, on the European Space Agency (ESA) website.
The UK’s space industry is also looking for ways to combat the spread of coronavirus and preventing future epidemics using satellites.
According to reports by Metro UK, the government said UKSA, established in 2010, is well placed to support the ‘unprecedented national effort’ of combating the virus.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said;
This new funding will ensure that the latest innovations will be on the frontline of tackling the unique problems the coronavirus outbreak has created, helping medical staff to focus on delivering world-class care.
The minister added that;
From new advanced software helping speed up cancer diagnoses to satellite communications connecting GPs to patients virtually, the UK space sector has been world leading in applying its innovations to supporting our brilliant NHS.
Metro UK reported that the initial funding will be made available to firms to use satellite data and drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
This is to tackle problems including delivering test kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) and managing infectious disease outbreaks.
The funding, which is part of a joint initiative by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, is for projects that address issues including logistics, as well as four other coronavirus-related issues.
The agency is also considering projects that manage infectious disease outbreaks, improve population health and wellbeing, support the health system to recover after the crisis and prepare for future epidemics, Metro UK reports.
The government said that space tech is already playing an important part in healthcare.
UK start-up company Lanterne recently announced a free app to help people observe social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, using GPS satellite data.
UKSA’s International Partnership Programme also uses satellites to support healthcare projects all over the world – particularly undeveloped nations.
This includes forecasting and providing early warning of dengue fever outbreaks in Vietnam through Earth observation satellites and using telecommunications to extend the reach of basic medical healthcare into remote areas in Nigeria.
Professor Tony Young, the NHS national clinical lead for innovation at NHS England said;
This is a global crisis that would overwhelm any health service on earth without strong action from the public and their public services.
This is why the NHS is looking to industries across the world – or indeed from out of this world – for new and exciting innovations that could help improve the care we provide to patients or help the NHS respond to this pandemic.
Drones are already being used across Europe during the pandemic, which has caused stringent social distancing measures during lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the disease via human contact.
In the UK, Neath Port Talbot Council is using talking drones to catch people ignoring coronavirus isolation advice.
The device gives troublemakers a telling-off through the speakers telling people to ‘follow government advice’ and ‘stay at home’.
In Turkey, a drone has been flown to sanitize public areas with disinfectant as a preventive measure in the northern city of Edirne.
Also, in Szolnok, Hungary, police officers have used a drone to find residents who are failing to comply with the stay-at-home orders.