A Scottish council is to trial the use of drones to deliver school meals.
The trial involves Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) flying from Oban Airport to deliver meals freshly prepared in Park Primary School in the town to Lochnell Primary, which is 1.5km away.
Argyll and Bute Council, which is carrying out the trial with drone specialists Skyports, described it as a UK first.
The council said using drones would help it deliver meals to all remote and island schools, reducing current delivery times and costs, and help contingency planning in emergencies.
Image by Kevin McGlynn
It added that the drones also offer an alternative carbon free mode of transport, as they are fully electric.
Argyll and Bute is Scotland’s second largest local authority with 23 inhabited islands, the most of any UK authority. While most schools have kitchens on site, the provision of school meals to some rural and remote schools relies on traditional methods of transport including vans, taxis and ferries.
Council leader Robin Currie said: ‘The possibilities of using UAVs 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 media supplies to our islands and now we want to make sure all pupils have access to healthy school meals.’
Alex Brown, head of drone Deliveries at Skyports, said: ‘Argyll and Bute Council’s readiness to explore how drone services can improve and enhance the lives of people across the local authority, combined with Skyports’ expertise and hundreds of flight hours in the region, makes this an exciting project with infinite benefits.’
The council said the trials are part of its plans to create a UAV innovations logistics hub at Oban Airport after it received £170,000 of UK Government Community Renewal funding to create a detailed planning application. 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.
Skyports will demonstrate the use of drones at the Oban Airport open day on Saturday (25 June).