London could one day see medical supplies delivered between its hospitals by drone, but only if government regulation catches up with the rest of the world, a new report has claimed.
The vision of a “drone delivery network” ferrying pathology samples, blood products and equipment between medical centers around the capital was analyzed as part of Nesta’s Flying High project, which assessed the impact of the technology across five U.K. regions.
Nesta, a charitable organization based in Britain which seeks to promote technological innovation, modeled delivery flights between Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in order to assess the feasibility of its proposal.
Other case studies included utilizing the pilotless technology to; assist the emergency services in the West Midlands, enhance the fire service in Bradford, support regeneration work in Preston, and supply NHS hospitals around the Solent.
Efforts to deliver these projects will drive innovation in drone development whilst helping to establish a program of public and political engagement on the issue, the report suggests.
The Flying High report also recommends updating regulations to reflect advances in drone technology, particularly around the management of urban airspace, and advises further investment in infrastructure to support drones is needed.
But the document warns the U.K. currently lags behind its competitors when it comes to ensuring it has the right policies to fully utilize the technology.
The U.S., E.U., and Singapore are especially advanced in this respect, having taken bigger steps towards reforming regulation and supporting businesses with innovative ideas.
Flying High cites PwC research suggesting the benefits of drone technology could amount to a £42billion boost to Britain’s economy (worth 2 per cent of GDP) by 2030, as an incentive for the government, private enterprise and public services to cooperate on delivering its recommendations.