Narayana Health will be partnering with the consortium by providing medicines that will be used for transport during the trials
India is set to begin its first official beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical drone delivery trials this month by a consortium of firms led by Bengaluru’s Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) at Gauribidanur, a site 80 km from Bengaluru.
TAS had obtained approval for object delivery experiments from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in March 2020 but could not proceed with the experiments due to the onset of the pandemic which had led to delays in some permissions from other agencies.
With all permissions and clearances now in place, the firm will carry out the first set of trials for 30-45 days, beginning June 18.
In a conversation with STOI, TAS CEO Nagendran Kandasamy said, “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.”
Narayana Health will be partnering with the consortium by providing medicines that will be used for transport during the trials, with its founder and cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty backing the trials.
Kandasamy informed that Narayana Health’s partnership was for the chain to understand the kinds of medicines that could be transported using drones, the challenges and whether or not this can be used routinely in future.
As per reports, the consortium will use two variants of its drone — MedCOPTER and TAS’ on-demand delivery software called RANDINT — during the experiment.
“The smaller variant of MedCOPTER can carry 1kg for up to 15km, while the other can carry 2kg for up to 12km. We will be testing both for range and safety through the 30-45 days, during which we have to fly for at least 100 hours as per DGCA. We are aiming to fly for around 125 hours. The logs will be reviewed and submitted to the authorities at the end of the trial,” Kandasamy said.
The consortium also includes Involi-Swiss, which specialises in air traffic awareness systems for professional drone applications, which is providing unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems, and Honeywell Aerospace as a safety expert.