Boots Becomes the First Community Pharmacy in the U.K. To Deliver Meds by Drone

Boots is testing medical drone deliveries using Apian's UAVs 6 photos
Photo: Boots
Boots Drone Takes Off From PortsmouthBoots Drone Takes Off From PortsmouthApian drone fleetApian droneApian founders
U.K.’s Boots pharmacy chain, health and beauty retailer, announced that it’s recently become the first community pharmacy in the country to transport prescription meds by drones.
Earlier this month, Boots successfully completed a test flight from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, assessing the potential of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for these types of operations. The drone took off from the British Army’s Baker Barracks on Thorney Island near Portsmouth and arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight. The flight was approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which granted permission for the drone to fly in segregated airspace between the two locations.

To conduct its trial, Boots partnered up with medical drone startup Apian. The latter describes itself as a healthcare company aiming to improve health outcomes by connecting the healthcare industry with the drone industry. Apian’s fleet of UAVs includes fixed-wing hybrid VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft used for long-range flights and multi-rotor drones that are easier to deploy and are suitable for shorter missions.

Apian’s largest drones have a wingspan of 5 m (16.4 ft), and they tip the scales at 85 kg (187 lb) and can carry a maximum payload of 20 kg (44 lb). The drones are developed by Skylift, which is Apian’s partner.

Now Boots and Apian are working on facilitating a trial, which will be useful to look at how much time can be saved by using drones for medical deliveries. Boots also aims to eventually use the technology for a variety of other applications in the future, as explained by Rich Corbridge, Chief Information Officer at Boots.

Using UAVs for delivering meds is particularly useful when the packages have to reach remote destinations that are harder to access. Moreover, drones are faster, more reliable than ground transportation, and offer a more sustainable solution for delivery, as added by Max Coppin, Chief Operating Officer at Apian.

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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