India to start first medical drone delivery trials from June 18

After obtaining the necessary clearances, the Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) will commence the first round of trials of India’s first official Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) on June 18 in Gauribidanur, 80km from Bengaluru.

Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) had gained approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for object delivery testing as early as March 2020. However, the pandemic has stalled a few other permissions from agencies.

Partnership with Narayan Health

Cardiac surgeon and founder of Narayana Health, Dr Devi Shetty, has backed the trials and will be partnering with the consortium by providing medicines that will be utilised for transportation during the trials. This partnership will help understand what kind of medicines could be supplied using drones, the obstacles that could arise, and whether or not this might be utilised routinely in the future.

The two drone variants

During the project, the consortium will employ two variants of its drone — ‘MedCOPTER’ and TAS’ on-demand delivery software called ‘RANDINT’.

According to Nagendran Kandaswamy, CEO, TAS, the smaller variant of MedCOPTER can carry 1kg for up to 15km, while the other one can carry 2kg for up to 12km. They will test both range and safety over the course of 30-45 days, during which they must fly for a minimum of 100 hours as required by the DGCA. They are aiming to fly for approximately 125 hours.

“First legal/official medical drone delivery experiment”

Nagendran Kandasamy, told STOI, “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.” He added, “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.”

Aside from TAS, Involi-Swiss, specialising in air traffic awareness systems for professional drone applications, which is providing unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems, and Honeywell Aerospace, safety expert are a part of the consortium.

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