A new project will investigate using drones for remote NT health delivery. 

Critical health supplies will be delivered by drone to remote Aboriginal communities before the end of the year as part of a new research project.

The three-year trial will see drones deliver loads of up to 25 kilograms as far as 250 kilometres away.

“It's the next step in medicine,” NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said.

NT Health is spending $1.4 million over three years on the project, which will be undertaken in partnership with Charles Darwin University and transport research centre iMove Australia.

One of the major challenges is to find drones that can withstand the Territory's heat, humidity, wild thunderstorms and monsoonal rains.

The first drone deliveries will include non-prescription medical supplies and also pathology tests such as blood samples.

“For a nurse in a remote clinic to be able to get some pathology results out quickly each day, as opposed to having to wait for a weekly plane for example... that gives the patient better care and might not have a significant cost imperative,” Ms Fyles said.

One option being explored is to base the drones and a pilot in Jabiru, 253 kilometres from Darwin, from where the devices can fly to surrounding remote communities such Maningrida and Gunbalanya.

The researchers will have to negotiate with the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA), and Defence, over airspace rights and other regulatory hurdles.