Maharashtra to have drone service for emergency medicine and critical care

Our Bureau Pune | Updated on September 17, 2019 Published on September 17, 2019

Representational Image   -  istock/golubovy

The Government of Maharashtra and Zipline, the world’s first and only national-scale drone delivery service, announced a partnership to use a logistics network of autonomous delivery drones to help transform emergency medicine and critical care. Zipline is an automated logistics company based in California.

The service, which is expected to launch in early 2020, is part of State’s vision to use drone delivery to establish universal, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving and critical medicines for its 120 million citizens. Zipline drones will make on-demand and emergency deliveries of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications.

Zipline will establish a total of 10 distribution centres across Maharashtra in phases over the next several years. In the first phase, two distribution centres near Pune and Nandurbar will be established to service public health facilities in those regions beginning in early 2020. These two centres will be financed through a grant from the Serum Institute of India. Future distribution centres will be financed by the government of Maharashtra and other private and philanthropic partners.

To increase access and reduce medical waste, key stock of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications will be stored at Zipline’s distribution centres for just-in-time delivery. Health workers will place orders by text message or call and promptly receive their deliveries in 30 minutes on average.

The drones both take off from and land at Zipline’s distribution centres, requiring no additional infrastructure or manpower at the clinics they serve. The drones fly autonomously and can carry 1.8 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kms an hour, and have a round trip range of 160 kms — even in high speed winds and rain.

Each of the two Zipline distribution centres in Maharashtra will cover a delivery area of more than 20,000 sq km. They will collectively be capable of serving up to 20 million people. Deliveries are made from the sky, with the drone descending to a safe height above the ground and releasing a box of medicine by parachute to a designated spot at the health centres it serves.

Published on September 17, 2019
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