A consortium of firms led by Bengaluru-based Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) will carry out the first set of trials for 30-45 days in Gauribidanur taluk.

The TAS team posing with the droneNagendran Kandasamy
news Technology Monday, June 21, 2021 - 16:59

India’s first official beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical drone delivery experiment has started in Karnataka’s Gauribidanur taluk in Chikkaballapura district on Monday, June 21. Led by Bengaluru-based Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS), a consortium of firms has been running technical checks since Friday, June 18. TAS will carry out the first set of trials for a duration of 30-45 days. The object delivery experiments received approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Union government in March 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic led to delays in permissions from other agencies.

"We have been running crucial system checks since June 18 and we will be conducting medicine delivery trials in the area allotted to us from Monday. Two other consortia also have permission for BVLOS experiments, but ours is the first official medical drone delivery experiment to get permission,” Nagendran Kandasamy, CEO, TAS told TNM.

Two variants of MedCOPTER drones are being put to use for the trials. The smaller MedCOPTER drone has the capacity to deliver a payload of up to 1 kg and has a range of 15 km, while the other variant accompanying it can carry up to 2 kg and can travel up to 12 km. A delivery software named RANDINT will be assisting the designated drones. “We have a small storage place and as per demand, the crew will pack the medicine and put it in the drone. The drone will then go and drop it off in the place generated by the software system. However, in the actual scenario this will be a user-generated demand based on our records instead of random selection,” he added.

Other entities such as Narayana Health have come on board the project, which has also received enquiries for potential partnership from international companies, Nagendran said. “Dr Devi Shetty, the renowned cardiac surgeon being tech-savvy himself, was enthusiastic about the concept right from the start and has backed the trials. Narayana Health will be partnering to provide medicines that will be used for transport during trials. Once the trials are successful, we are looking to branch out to cities as well.”

“With this idea being conceptualised in 2016, we strongly believe in using the technological advancement of drones for enhancing mobility and reach of essential items to rural areas. It can be put to use beyond photography or videography. As of now, the next 30-45 days are crucial and a comprehensive report will be made to be submitted to the regulators. They will give us a special clearance after which we look forward to working on commercial drone delivery in India soon," Nagendran said. TAS is looking to fly the drones for about 125 hours during the trial period. As per the guidelines of the DGCA, the consortium is required to fly the drones for at least 100 hours during the trial phase.

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