"Eeewwww.... school dinners" the kids might say, but at least they can be impressed with how the food arrived. Drone delivery company Skyports deliver the meals to the remote Lochnell Primary School from the town of Oban, 1.5km (1 mile) away.
The scheme was been piloted in June 2022, with the intention of replacing traditional vehicles – vans, taxis, and ferries – which the BBC noted at the time "can be affected by weather conditions." We'd be surprised if this isn't true for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) too – it certainly affects most of the best camera drones – but operators are optimistic.
"To open up delivery of free school meals to island schools would be really beneficial for them... and we know here school meals impact highly on achievement," said Louise Chisholm, Lochnell Primary School.
From a governmental perspective, the goal here is ultimately to prove drones can cut costs of meal delivery and eliminate the need for on-site kitchens at small island schools while still providing that vital nutrition. The drones used in the trial carried a maximum 1.3kg (3lb) payload, so didn't feed even Lochnell Primary, let alone the 23 islands that fall under the authority's auspices.
Nevertheless, heads have been turned at the Assist FM Facility Management Awards, Scotland, where the scheme has been shortlisted in the Innovation and Community Focus awards. The winner will be announced on May 18.
From an aviation perspective, the goals of the test were more complex than simple beyond-line-of-sight delivery, however. Flights left from Oban airport, where manned flights operate too, but Tom Eddleston of Oban Airport, on the west of Scotland, said sharing the airspace was "Something we are keen to try and explore," and "there's no real problem from the airport perspective, it's literally just going to be convincing the regulator."
The regulator in question, the UK's CAA (the equivalent of the FAA), still keeps its options open for this kind of scheme, but there is government pressure for a drone superhighway so more of this kind of scheme is likely.
Skyports has other active projects around the world. Relatively nearby Skyports operate mail delivery to the island of Orkney for the Royal Mail. Further afield the firm has received sign-off for the development of a 'vertiport' in Dubai and eVTOL in Paris.
The future sounds exciting (and a bit Bladerunner), but if you're still waiting for your family to enjoy drones, perhaps it'd be better to take the first step and try the best drones for beginners or check the best drones for kids right now!