Integrating drones into the NHS supply chain across Hampshire
Group Members
Tara Banahan, Shadi Hamou, Danail Ivanov, Raimundo Garcia-Figueras Mateos, Nelson Ng, Pablo Lahoz Powter
Professor Tom Cherrett, Professor James Scanlan
NHS (National Health Service), T-motor, Meachers Global Logistics
This project focused on the logistics of pathology sample transportation between General Practitioner (GP) surgeries and the pathology labs at Southampton General Hospital (SGH) for a specific area of Hampshire. The main aim of the project was to determine how the integration of drones within the existing van fleet could improve the main logistics criterion of reducing: i) transit time (bleed-time to receipt at the pathology lab); ii) overall fleet cost and iii) overall fleet CO2 emissions.

The project required the design, test and build of a UAV that would fit into the existing supply chain. The basic design parameters were set by the logistics analysis: two kilogram payload, parking lot take-off capability, and a 73 km range to allow the drone to reach the furthest surgery (Twin Oaks surgery) and return back to SGH, with a safety buffer range of 25%.

The UAV prototype is an electric powered fixed wing VTOL quad-rotor drone. The configuration was chosen after an extensive review of existing VTOL UAV designs and tailored for this specific application. The lifting body fuselage box provides torsional rigidity in VTOL flight whilst housing all the required electronics and control systems. A novel magnet system was developed for collecting and releasing the payload as well as a quick-release battery system to minimise human-drone interaction.

The final proposed optimised logistics solution utilized 3 drones and 4 vans as opposed to the existing 12 van fleet supply chain. This reduces CO2 emissions by 147 kg per week and improves the flow of workload at the pathology labs.
Exploded render of Pelargos
Exploded render of Pelargos (annotated)


Supply chain vision flow map


Cumulative sample arrival at SGH throughout the day


wind tunnel testing
wind tunnel testing
Isometric render of Pelargos