Nesta – the future of drones in UK cities

UK based innovation foundation Nesta has published a report that argues making “urgent medical deliveries from hospital to hospital” could be one of the most useful and important tasks that drones could perform in UK cities.

The Nesta report , “Flying High: Shaping the Future of Drones in UK Cities”, examined how drones are being used in five UK city-regions:

– traffic incident response in the West Midlands

– construction and regeneration in Preston

– supporting the fire and rescue service in Bradford.

– and medical delivery in both London and also the Southampton-Isle of Wight region

The Nesta report also looked at UAVs being used in other delivery services: “A lot of public attention has focused on the drone delivery of commercial goods – collecting, transporting and delivering goods from retailers to homes or between intermediary hubs.

“The city stakeholders consulted for the Flying High project mainly expressed an interest in situations where drones would be used to perform regular and/or unpredictable deliveries of critical items. This included urgent deliveries of medical samples or drugs between hospitals, or deliveries between a hub and variable emergency locations – for example, sending a defibrillator at the site of an accident or essential supplies to flood victims. If used to complement emergency services, drones could enable a faster and more targeted delivery of emergency supplies and more consistent services.

“Beyond emergency services, delivery drones were seen as way of improving the accessibility of different services and enabling the development of more inclusive communities. For example, drones could be used to deliver medical prescriptions or local produce to vulnerable people or to those in remote locations. The development of a drone delivery infrastructure could lead to reduced road traffic congestion and pollution in city centres, and faster and more consistent services for remote users.”

The Nesta report argued that London could help to “influence drone deployment in cities all over the world”. But in order to make the most of the opportunity, Nesta advised that the authorities should set up a steering group.