A consortium led by Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) in Bengaluru will carry out the first set of trials of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical drone from June 18 onwards, reported The Times of India.
TAS had received the permission of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in March 2020 itself but other permissions from agencies were stalled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. After having secured all clearances, it will now carry out trials of delivery of medicines by drones for 30-45 days in Gauribidanur taluk in Chikballapur District of Karnataka. It is located about 80 km from Bengaluru.
Throttle Aerospace Systems’ CEO, Nagendran Kandasamy, informed, “Two other consortia also have permission for BVLOS experiments, but ours is the first legal/official medical drone delivery experiment. We have come a long way since 2016 and are at a pivotal moment. After a long wait, we now have an official go-ahead from the BVLOS Experiment Monitoring Committee (BEMC) and we look forward to leveraging commercial drone delivery in India soon.”
Besides TAS, Invol-Swiss company will provide unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems and Honeywell Aerospace company will provide safety expertise. For the trials of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical drone, Throttle Aerospace Systems will use two variants of MedCOPTER drone and delivery software named RANDINT. Reportedly, the smaller model of MedCOPTER drone can carry a weight up to 1 kg for 15 kms. The other variant can carry 2kg for 12 kms.
TAS will test the range and safety of both models for 30-45 days. During the said period, both the drones will be flown for at least 100 hours in accordance with the guidelines of COCA. According to CEO Kandasamy, TAS is planning to fly the drones for about 12 hours. He informed that all logs will be reviewed and submitted to the authorities on completion of the trial phase.
Cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty has announced that he will provide the medicines to be used during the trials. The partnership with Narayana Healthcare is meant to understand the type of medicines that can be transported via drones. It will also help TAS understand the challenges and whether it could be used on a regular basis in the future.
“Our software will receive the demand raised by Narayana. Nobody will know who the recipient is, but the delivery will be made to the pre-loaded address…They are the other user partners. They are interested in knowing the per kilometre cost and other such commercial aspects of object delivery,” TAS CEO pointed out. Besides Narayana, Udaan has reached out to inquire about the commercial aspect of the model.
Bengaluru Hospitals use drones to deliver vaccines
Last month, four Bengaluru hospitals made use of drones to deliver vaccines and medicines within their campuses to improve the availability of drugs in Covid wards. The hospitals- Victoria, Vanivilas, and Bowring government hospitals — and the Jagjivan Ram Nagar Referral Hospital deployed drones manufactured by Chennai- headquartered Garuda Aerospace.
Centre gives nod for experimental use of drones in Telangana
In an innovative move, the Civil Aviation Ministry had given a nod to the Telangana government last month to use drones for experimental delivery of vaccines using drone flights.
Sharing the update via a Tweet, “MoCA grants conditional exemption from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021 to Government of Telangana for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights for delivery of vaccines,” informed the Ministry of Civil Aviation. “This exemption will remain valid for a period of one year from the date of approval of the said SOPs or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” said the letter of approval.