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Skyport delivering school meals to Oban pupils in UK first

It takes meals on wheels to a whole other level.

Pupils living in some of Scotland’s most remote areas could soon be having their school meals delivered by electrically-powered drones.

In a UK first, Argyll and Bute Council is trialling the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) at two Highland primaries.

Flying from Oban Airport, drones are delivering meals freshly prepared in Park Primary School to Lochnell Primary, which is 1.5km away. 

Council leader Robin Currie said the possibilities for the use of UAVs to maintain vital public services in remote areas was “staggering”.

Drones have already been used to deliver medical supplies to island health services.

While the aircraft has a maximum payload of 3kg – not quite enough to feed a classroom of hungry students – leading drone provider Skyport say learnings from the early stage project will pave the way for bigger operations.

Argyll and Bute is Scotland’s second largest local authority with 23 inhabited islands, the most of any UK authority. 

While the majority of schools have kitchens on site preparing meals, the provision of school meals to some rural and remote schools currently relies on traditional methods of transport including vans, taxis and ferries, which can be affected weather conditions. 

READ MORE: Plan for Oban drones hub will see medical supplies delivered to islands 

All P1-P5 pupils are entitled to free school meals, as are all pupils in early years as part of Scotland’s 1140 hours a year of childcare scheme. 

The use of drones has the potential to reduce delivery times and costs, and help contingency planning in emergencies and also offer an alternative carbon free mode of transport, as they are fully electric. 

HeraldScotland:

The trials are part of ambitious plans by the council to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Innovations logistics Hub at Oban Airport by 2025.

The council received £170,000 of UK Government Community Renewal funding to create a detailed planning application with full design and costings in order to bid to the UK Levelling Up Fund.   

The plans build on the £70 million Argyll and Bute Rural Growth Deal proposal, which includes plans for a vertiport take-off and landing facility at the airport. 

READ MORE: Drones could be used to plant trees to prevent landslides at Rest and Be Thankful 

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council said: “We are committed to connecting remote and island communities to vital mainland services. 

“The possibilities of using UAV’s to improve services to our communities is quite staggering. 

“Argyll and Bute is the perfect location to test the efficiency of drone technology. 

“We have already seen how drones can deliver essential medical supplies to our islands and now we want to make sure all pupils have access to healthy school meals.”

“This is just the start of what is possible using drones as we look to create the UK’s first UAV logistics and training Hub at Oban Airport.

“From maintaining our assets including roads and bridges to inspecting offshore wind farms, developing the use of drones will help develop skills, create jobs and attract further and investment to the area.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart added: “The use of drones has massive potential for improving public services for the region’s communities and UK Government funding is spurring these innovations as part of our £2bn for levelling up across Scotland.”

Skyports will be demonstrating  the use of drones at the Oban Airport open day on June 25.

 



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