The pilot “medicine from the sky” project – drones delivering vaccines was launched in Telangana’s Vikarabad district by the Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Saturday. “Medicine from the Sky is a first of its kind project aimed at transporting vaccines and essentials to remote areas using drones,” he said. Scindia kicked off the ambitious, important project with Telangana IT minister KT Ramarao.
The Union Minister said the new Drone Policy brought out by the NDA government at the Centre recently eased rules regarding drone operations in India by reducing the number of forms that need to be filled to operate them from 25 to five, and decreasing the types of fee charged from the operator from 72 to four. No permission is need to fly drones under the Green Zone.
Skye Air Mobility, Delhi-based drone delivery tech firm, has collaborated with Blue Dart to initiate a three-phase trial for a project that starts with flying drones, each carrying 175 vaccines in a temperature-controlled, first within line of sight and then beyond visual line of sight. The company highlighted that since it’s a trial run, the initial vaccines being delivered will not be the precious COVID-19 jabs.
Swapnik Jakkampuddi, Skye Air Mobility Co-Founder, told ToI that this is the first trial to deliver jabs by drones and different corridors have been identified for the purpose. “On Thursday we start with within line of sight that will cover a distance of up to a kilometer. Later when we go BVLOS in this trial, we will deliver up to 10km within 20-25 minutes. We are doing this trial under Blue Dart Med Express Consortium,” he said. “Skye Air Mobility is all set to commence a series of drone trials with its consortium partners that could transform how essentials are supplied to remote areas in the country. Telangana is the first state to start trials of BVLOS drone flights for delivery of vaccines.
Boxes up to 3 kg will take off from Vikarabad District hospital for 500-metre-away primary healthcare centers. The drones will fly to an altitude of up to 400 feet. Moreover, the drones will deliver the jabs to healthcare workers who will inoculate the residents.