Critical Drone Delivery Project Bases on Digital Twin Model

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A UK-first trial could revolutionize the way in which healthcare services are delivered, leading to the delivery of medical supplies in Scotland. The system would employ electrical drones, which could in future be fully autonomous with the capability of vertical take off and landing with fixed-wing flight.

The effort will lead to the creation of a network of around 20 hubs at airports and medical locations such as hospitals and laboratories covering the whole of Scotland with dozens of drones flying between them.

The CAELUS project that will involve live flight trials of drones is being led by a consortium of 14 academic and industry partners headed by AGS Airports, 

The project emerged from research led by the University of Strathclyde whose researchers will create a digital blueprint of the drone delivery network with the potential to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland.

In general, digital twins are virtual replicas of physical devices that data scientists and IT pros can use to run simulations before actual devices are built and deployed. 

In addition to developing the ground infrastructure needed to recharge the drones and the systems to control them while flying, a key aspect of the project will be ensuring the drones can safely share airspace with civil aviation. Critical aspects such as public safety, security and noise levels will also be carefully considered.

Strathclyde will also lead on the development of the conceptual digital twin model of a distributed recharging network for the drones.

The research will contribute to the design and optimisation of reliable systems that are resilient to disruptions. The research effort will still have to cope with challenges such as 

collision avoidance technology for fully-autonomous drones flying beyond line of visible sight in open skies, specific temperatures and conditions for critical payloads such as donor organs, satisfying regulatory requirements for the Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies. 

It is expected that the effort would not only prove that drone technology has the ability to speed up the delivery of critical medical supplies, it could reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, help provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities, according to