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Windracers ULTRA UAV drone to be used to transport medical supplies to support the response to COVID-19 at St Mary’s hospital.

Windracer is working with Solent Transport to trial an innovative and fast UAV drone transportation service as a result of the COVID-19. The aim is to transport medical supplies and equipment to St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight from Southampton General Hospital via the Solent Airport in only 20 minutes. 

The trial, the first of its kind, is part of the Future Transport Zone (FTZ) project funded by the Department for Transport, to use the Windracer ULTRA UAV drone, which has been designed and built by the University of Southampton for Windracers. The trial will benefit patients on the Isle of Wight by speeding up the delivery to and from the Hospital.

The trial will involve a Windracers ULTRA UAV drone flying between the Isle Of Wight and the mainland to support St Mary’s Hospital, providing an additional transit service for small unit loads as a backup to the existing logistics system which uses ferries, and which currently have a reduced service during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Windracers ULTRA UAV is a double engine, fixed-winged aircraft with a carrying capacity of up to 100Kg, in a space around the size of an estate car boot, over 1,000 km. In the initial operation, it will be carrying loads of not more than 40Kg and the type of cargo will depend on the needs of the hospital and be subject to permissions granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. The ULTRA platform uses an innovative high-reliability avionics system developed by its sister company, Distributed Avionics.

Stephen Wright, Executive Chairman of Windracers, said “We have been working with the University of Southampton for over three years to design and build the Windracers ULTRA UAV. Our aim has always been to provide a fast, cost-effective service to transport humanitarian aid, medical supplies or other critical materials over long distances, whether over land, water or hostile terrain and to deliver where other vehicles or aircraft are unable to access.”

Charles Scales, Chief Executive Officer of Windracers said “We are very pleased that we are able to contribute to helping the NHS fight Covid-19. This will be the first time a large UAV is used in shared airspace and integrated within existing logistics operations in the UK. We are very proud to be part of this ground-breaking project. ”

Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said “Providing NHS services on an island comes with a number of challenges, so it is fantastic to see the progress being made to support health care on the Isle of Wight through the use of new and innovative technology.

“This work has the potential to significantly improve services for our local community by reducing waiting times for test results and speeding up the transfer of important, possibly life-saving medication.”

Note to editors

Windracers provides transportation services to the humanitarian aid, research and environmental protection communities using UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles). The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) produced by Windracers – the Windracers ULTRA (Unmanned Large Transport Aircraft) platform – is illustrated below. This platform has been developed at the University of Southampton funded by Windracers. This twin-engine design will be capable of flying large volume payloads of up to 100kg for 1,000km and operating from a range of landing sites. It will ultimately be fully automated without the need for a pilot on the ground. The UAV has primarily been designed to distribute humanitarian aid.

Distributed Avionics (DA), part of the Windracers group, specialises in high-reliability flight control systems for UAVs. The DA autopilot uses patent-pending MasterlessTM technology to bring unparalleled levels of safety to UAV platforms. The DA cloud-based mission management software offers users connectivity to their UAV platforms from anywhere in the world.

Solent Transport won £29M from the Department for Transport (DfT) in March 2020 to implement innovative future transport solutions around personal mobility and freight movements, including a Drones project.

Solent Transport is a partnership that comprises of Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council and Isle of Wight. The partnership works strategically with businesses, key stakeholders and other agencies to deliver improved transport infrastructure, networks and systems crucial to keep the region moving and generate economic growth, wealth and stability.

The Solent Transport area who will benefit from this bid covers the Southampton and Portsmouth city regions as well as parts of the Isle of Wight and South Hampshire (including Winchester).

For further information contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 7770 542 776

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