Delivery of COVID-19 vaccines by drones is expected to begin, transporting 10,000 vials from a central location to primary health centres nearby (Representational Image)
India will carry out the first long-range drone flights for delivery of medicines and food in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Punjab.
The experimental deliveries will be conducted using long-range drones that can fly upto 20 kilometers, a report in The Economic Times said. This will mark the first time for use of such drones as India permits only drone flights within visual line of sight or 450 metres from the operator.
A global drone services provider ANRA Technologies will hold experimental deliveries of medicines in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar and with Swiggy for food deliveries, the report added.
Meanwhile, Throttle Aerospace and Daksha Unmanned Systems, in collaboration with Narayana Healthcare, will conduct deliveries of medicines in Gauribidanur in Karnataka and Thiruvalluvar outside Chennai. The pre-trials for the same will be conducted on June 18 and 19 before the formal launch of its experimental flight on June 21, the publication said.
A consortium of 34 companies had shown interest after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had released an expression of interest to conduct experimental BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) drone flights in May 2019. However, only 20 companies including SpiceJet, Nandan Nilekani-backed ShopX, and Google-backed Dunzo were reportedly granted initial approval.
However, only ANRA, Throttle Aerospace and Daksha Unmanned Systems have received the final go-ahead. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is yet to release the draft guidelines for public feedback by December 31, 2021 and the final guidelines by March 31, 2022, the report said citing Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Meanwhile, E-commerce major Flipkart had earlier said it had partnered with the Telangana government to lead a consortium tasked with the development and execution of the drone deliveries of medical supplies to remote areas under the 'Medicines from the Sky' project.
Walmart-owned Flipkart will deploy drones and enable deliveries of vaccines and medical supplies. These efforts will be complemented with technologies such as geo-mapping, routing of shipments and track and trace of location etc, developed by Flipkart over the years in serving millions of customers across the country, a company statement had earlier said.[Inputs from PTI]