The UK government has awarded Argyll and Bute Council more than £170,000 in Levelling Up funding to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Innovation logistics hub at Oban airport.
The Oban Airport hub will be a high-tech base for electrically-powered drones to transport medicines, biological samples, and cargo between islands and the mainland.
Argyll and Bute Council is working in partnership with drone-landing infrastructure design and delivery company Skyports to develop plans for the hub.
Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “This new investment is extremely welcome news for Argyll and Bute and will deliver a significant boost to the region’s economic prospects.
“It takes us a step closer to establishing the UAV logistics hub which would see the area become a centre of excellence for this highly innovative use of drone technology and would lead to the creation of much-needed highly skilled jobs.
“Alongside the benefits for the local economy and employment, the use of this ground-breaking technology would be extremely valuable in terms of the lifeline the hub’s services would provide for our remote and rural island residents.”
Alex Brown, director of drone services, Skyports, added: “In 2021 we transported COVID-19 tests, pathology samples and medicine up to 50 miles between NHS medical facilities in the Argyll and Bute.
“Alongside the flight trials, we have been working with Oban Airport to look at how permanent drone operations can service the highlands and islands.”
Dr Phil Anderson, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) head of robotics, added: “By combining commercial logistics to the Highlands and Islands alongside training and expertise in research and innovation, Oban is set to be a significant hub in this future of these airborne platforms.
“SAMS is excited to be involved with the Oban development of this unique facility. SAMS will focus on training and innovation; beginner pilots or bespoke designers will have access to indoor, all-weather test facilities, whilst deep-ocean and polar scientists can practice over-the-horizon operations prior to departure.”
Image credit: Skyports
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