Hyderabad: The Telangana government’s initiative ‘Medicine from the Sky’ was launched on Saturday to deliver medicines to remote areas using drones.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Telangana’s Minister for Industries and Information Technology, K. T. Rama Rao formally launched the project at Vikarabad, making Telangana the first state to use drones to deliver medicines.
The maiden drone delivered a five kg box of vaccine doses to a community health centre located three kilometres away in 10 minutes.
The first sortie was carried out by a drone built by SkyAir Mobility for its Consortium partner ‘Blue Dart Express’.
Life-saving drugs, vaccines, blood and even organs for transplantation could easily be transported to remote places while saving precious time, Rama Rao said while speaking at the launch event.
‘Medicines from the Sky’ initiative is spearheaded by the Emerging Technologies Wing of the Department of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications in partnership with the World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals).
The project entails India’s first organised ‘Beyond the Visual Line Of Sight’ (BVLOS) trials as multiple drone consortiums are participating together to establish the use-case of long range drone-based medical deliveries. This is also the first drone programme since the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had recently liberalised its drone policy.
As the first organised drone delivery programme in Asia, the trials are focused on laying the groundwork for the drone delivery network that will improve access to vital health care supplies for remote and vulnerable communities.
The project has eight participating consortiums comprising of drone operators, experts in healthcare and airspace management, among others, that will demonstrate short and long-range drone-based deliveries to assess the efficacy of low altitude aerial logistics in healthcare.
The launch marks the beginning of nearly a month-long continuous trials by the eight selected consortiums, that have been batched into two per week on a lottery basis. They will conduct BVLOS trials and collect the data from each flight.
The insights from these trials will be used to drive adoption strategy for the state, and also publish reports that highlight Telangana’s experience and how the same can be leveraged by all states across India.