Drones to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in India's remote corners? Govt invites bids

By | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jun 13, 2021 01:26 PM IST

The drone delivery of Covid-19 vaccines will help deliver crucial supplies to India's remote corners. The Centre had approved a feasibility study for in in April.

The people living in the remote corners of the country may soon get Covid-19 vaccine through drones. HLL Infra Tech Services Limited, on behalf of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Friday invited expression of interest for delivery of medical supplies (vaccines/drugs) by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at select locations in India.

The Centre had approved ICMR's request to study delivery of Covid vaccines through drones in April this year.(HT Archive)
The Centre had approved ICMR's request to study delivery of Covid vaccines through drones in April this year.(HT Archive)

The company said that ICMR will engage UAV operators to operate beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) in fixed pre-defined or pre-approved flight paths and deliver Covid-19 vaccine. It has also given the proforma for interested parties to apply for it.

HLL has given specification for the UAVs required. As per the company's note, the drone should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35km at a vertical altitude of minimum of 100 metres, take off vertically and carry minimum payload of 4kg, and capable of returning to home base.

HLL has made it clear that parachute-based delivery will not be preferred.

The proposed agreement will be valid for 90 days, and can be extended depending on the performance of the UAV operator and need of the programme, HLL further said.

This comes nearly two months after ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) and directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) granted conditional exemption to ICMR for conducting feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones. The ICMR has partnered with IIT-Kanpur for the project.

The Centre said that the exemption will be valid for a period of one year or until further orders.

Meanwhile, e-commerce company Flipkart on Friday said that it has partnered with Telangana government for delivery of Covid-19 vaccines and other essential supplies using drones in the remote parts of the state. Before launching the 'Medicines from the Sky' project, a six-day pilot project will be carried out in Telangana.

"Using drones to deliver healthcare supplies to people in remote and inaccessible areas is a one-of-a-kind initiative ever undertaken in our country and we are happy to lead this initiative in collaboration with partners such as Flipkart," said Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary (IT and I&C), Government of Telangana

He added that it will go a long way in testing best-in-class technology solutions to tide over future crises.

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