Drone trials for delivery of medicines and vaccines will be held in Telangana's Vikarabad this month. 'Medicine From The Sky', an ambitious project of the Telangana government, will make it the first state to start trials of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Indian drone delivery start-up firm Skye Air Mobility, which is a part of the consortium for the project, will conduct the majority of drone flights. Skye Air has joined hands with Blue Dart Express to provide drone-based delivery and drone flights to conduct these trials.
The Telangana government is exploring the scope of delivery of medical and healthcare provisions through drones across the state. MFTS Project's first two days of the trials will be flying in the visual line of sight, which involves drones flying between 500 to 700 meters from the base and they can be seen with the naked eye. After the trials, BVLOS drone flights will take place for 9-10 km distances. These flights will be with consignments of vaccine, medical samples and other healthcare items.
Earlier in June, the Telangana government launched â€˜Medicine from the Skyâ€™ initiative in partnership with World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog, and HealthNet Global. Skye Air is a licensed company who is compliant with aviation safety norms and well aware of risk mitigation measures in case of emergencies. As per the Expression on Interest, the company will have two certified remote pilots who have been specifically trained for the BVLOS trials during the project.
"Our battle against COVID-19 continues to unfold with new challenges that need solutions in real-time. The pandemic has taught each one of us the importance of logistics and the need for a tech-led supply chain infrastructure. As an organisation, Blue Dart has always immersed itself with the technology of the future. It is this ability that has helped us to not only withstand the pandemic but operate exceptionally well," Blue Dart Managing Director Balfour Manuel said.
"India rolled out a nationwide vaccination campaign that has administered over 70 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses so far. While the nation is focusing on achieving 100% vaccination, the current situation calls for a much deeper penetration of vaccines, especially in the remote areas. Delivery of vaccination through drones would be a stepping stone to achieve this goal," he added.
"The key elements that were deterrents in the sector for a long period are now in favour of this development. The environment is optimistic, people have the right mindset, favourable government policy and aerial technological advancements, drone delivery will be a game changer very soon. This move is in sync with our endeavours at transformational change in rural and remote areas by helping make instant access to vital medical supplies. We are extremely delighted to be a part of this project with the Telangana Government and our tie up with leading firms to give the first live demonstration trials which are being conducted in real time with real vaccines and medicines being carried," Skye Air Mobility Co-founder Swapnik Jakkampundi said.
With IANS inputs