Argyll and Bute Council in Scotland has been awarded £250,000 through a competitive bid process, from the UK government’s Regulator’s Pioneer Fund, to continue trialling drones for applications across remote and rural areas.
In 2021, the council collaborated with with drone specialists Skyports to deliver school meals.
It now plans to create the UK’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) logistics and training hub at Oban Airport, which will be supported by funding from Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal. The council has secured planning permission for the hub and a business case is currently under review by the Scottish government.
The new government funding will enable further trials to take place later this year and help it establish additional drone use cases across the region.
Cllr Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Our geography and ongoing budget cuts mean we need to develop innovative solutions to reach our remote and rural communities.
“We are extremely ambitious in our plans to establish the first UK UAV logistics and training hub, creating ground breaking opportunities…We now want to explore what else is possible and look at the benefits to our communities and wider industry.
“The new funding will enable us to prove that drones can co-exist with piloted general aviation and deliver essential services in minimal time. At the same time, as we work across services to reduce carbon emissions, the use of green technology will help us achieve net zero by 2045.”
Upcoming trials will explore cargo deliveries, surveying and surveillance of infrastructure, maintenance of roads and bridges, monitoring of marine and agricultural environments and delivering medical equipment, test results and mail.
Some external stakeholders will be brought on the improve the use of drones in providing essential services, the council has said.