The Goondiwindi Region has become the first community in Australia to trial deliveries of medications to rural residents via an autonomous drone.
TerryWhite Chemmart Goondiwindi pharmacist, Lucy Walker said the innovative project has commenced pilot flights from Goondiwindi.
Goondiwindi Regional Council is encouraging on-farm residents within a 40km radius of the Goondiwindi Aerodrome to sign up now to take part in the pilot program, which has been in development for over a year.
“This project will put the Goondiwindi Region on the map as the birthplace of a burgeoning new frontier of aviation technology,” said Goondiwindi Mayor, Lawrence Springborg AM.
“This technology has endless potential to provide improved rural services not just in healthcare, but in other areas such as veterinary services or agricultural parts supply.
“We do encourage as many residents as possible to take part in the trial to give our community the best shot of having this service continue.”
Mrs Walker presented a drone demonstration to local businesses at a Goondiwindi Region Innovation Network (GRIN) event last week. Mayor Springborg said it was great to see a range of different businesses that were keen to learn more and explore potential opportunities in their own industries.
“This is one wonderful example of the many different types of innovation happening in the Goondiwindi Region,” he said.
“The Innovation Network is about local innovators and entrepreneurs sharing ideas and experiences, and exploring new options to further develop our region.
“This technology has exciting implications for so many other industries down the track, and a potentially important role to play during disasters.
“To have a drone to provide deliveries of medicines could be of critical importance in situations where access is limited, such as what we saw in the recent flood event with many residents cut off from town.”
He said Council proudly supports the GRIN through its Community Grants program.
Mrs Walker said it had taken more than a year to get the required regulatory approvals permitted, but that the project would forge the path for similar unmanned aviation services in the future.
“This project is really paving the way for regional Australia and setting the standard for the future of remotely-operated deliveries,” she said.
“Most importantly, it will ensure people in regional areas are serviced just as well as those living in town with better, faster, and more convenient access to healthcare essentials.
“Many of my customers live on farms or small towns in outlying areas. In some cases a visit to our pharmacy to collect their vital medicines may mean a three-hour round trip,” Mrs Walker said at the time of the project announcement.
“Importantly, we will learn a great deal from the pilot, what works well, and what may need improving. We can use these learnings to not only fine-tune the service to our community, but also share with other regional pharmacies around Australia who may be looking to investigate a drone delivery service.”
The pilot is a partnership between TerryWhite Chemmart, drone logistics company Swoop Aero and healthcare wholesaler Symbion with funding from EBOS Group.