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Telangana’s medicines-from-the-sky project takes flight

KV Kurmanath Vikarabad (Telangana) | Updated on September 11, 2021

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia and others witnessing the first-ever delivery of medicines by drone in Vikarabad district   -  PTI

Skye Air Mobility drone completes 3-km sortie in 7 minutes delivering a payload of vaccines

An audacious experiment to drop vaccines from the sky was successfully piloted at Vikarabad, some 76 km from Hyderabad. Watched by a cheering crowd of 500 people, a drone whirred off into the sky with a temperature controlled box full of medicines weighing 1.5 kg, disappearing into the horizon.

It took just seven minutes for the 19-kg drone to drop the medicines without incident at a primary health care centre located 3 km away.

Skye Air Mobility and Blue Dart Express came together to give wings to Telangana’s ambitious ‘Medicines from the Sky’ project, which aspires to not just transport vaccines against Covid, but also life-saving medicines, as well as blood and organs to difficult-to-access destinations.

Flagging off the pilot, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia termed the successful live demonstration a revolution and said data gathered from such sorties would help in replicating the service in other States. The data will be analysed to see whether vibrations and speed have any impact on the quality of the medicines. The ‘Medicine from the Sky’ is an initiative of the Telangana government in association with World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals). “Carrying vaccines in a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, the drone flew at an altitude of 400 metres above ground level and covered a distance of three kilometres,” said Swapnik Jakkampundi, Co-founder Skye Air. This is the first-of-a-kind project in the country to use drones for beyond the visual line of sight (beyond 500 metres) sorties.

Other firms

Apart from the Skye Air Mobility-Blue Dart Express pair, others such as Helicopter Consortium (with Marut Drones) and CurisFly Consortium (TechEagle Innovations) have also demonstrated their capabilities in transporting vaccines and life-saving medicines using drones. Marut Drone Founder Prem Kumar Vislawath said that his drone could transport a payload of up to 15 kg. “It has four compartments that can carry different medicines or vaccines with different requirements of temperatures,” he told BusinessLine.

Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao says the scope is immense. “Why, we can even transport organs without having to bother about the traffic hurdles. We can easily transport life-saving drugs and vaccines to remote areas,” he says.

Published on September 11, 2021

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