Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation launches India’s first Drone Medicine Delivery project ‘Medicines From The Sky’ at Vikarabad.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation launches India’s first Drone Medicine Delivery project ‘Medicines From The Sky’ at Vikarabad
Jyotiradtiya Scindia, Union Civil Aviation Minister and Mr KT Rama Rao, IT Minister

Vikarabad/ Hyderabad- Mr. Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Govt of India launches ‘Medicine From The Sky, Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight’ at a function held at Vikarabad, 75 km away from Hyderabad in Telangana on Saturday. Telangana’s ‘Medicines From The Sky’ project can be a game-changer in using drones for healthcare. The project is the first of its kind in India. It is also a potential game-changer for using drones in the civilian sector in India.

It is an initiative of the Government of Telangana led by the Emerging Technologies Wing of the IT Department in partnership with World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog and Apollo Hospitals’ HealthNet Global. The Consortia partners Marut Drones’ HepiCopter, Blue Dart’s Sky Air and Tech Eagle’s Cure Fly showcased their capabilities and demonstrated the same to the guests. Out of the three drone companies, Marut Drones is a T-Hub incubated Startup.

According to Ms Ramadevi Lanka, Director of Emerging Technologies, Govt of Telangana, eight startups were shortlisted but only three turned up. The eight shortlisted include Hepicopter Consortium lead by Marut Drones; Bluedart Med Express Consortium lead by Bluedart Express; Cursively Consortium lead by Tech Eagle Innovations; Airserve Consortium lead by AirServe; Dunzo Med Air Consortium lead by Dunzo; Flipkart Air Consortium lead by Flipkart Medisky Consortium lead by Sagar Defence; Redwing Consortium led by Redwing Labs.

Sabita Indra Reddy, Minister for Education and KT Rama Rao, Minister for IT Industries, MA & UD, Govt of Telangana, Shri Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Piyush Srivastava, Senior Eco. Advisor; Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary from Union Civil Aviation Ministry graced the launch.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Govt of India said the perception of India as a follower is now leading in drone technology and the same is demonstrated here in Telangana to the rest of the world. It is a historical movement for the Drone industry.

There are immense benefits. This project. Ten days back the Ministry of Civil Aviation notified liberalised Drone Rules, 2021. The Number of forms was reduced from 25 to 5 and the Types of fees reduced from 72 to 4. The Quantum of the fee was reduced to nominal levels and delinked with the size of the drone. The digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated, he said. Speaking further the Union Minister added that the Interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform very soon.

No permission is required for operating drones in green zones. Green zone means the airspace up to a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metres that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace up to a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metres above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometres from the perimeter of an operational airport he said. The Yellow zone is reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No remote pilot licence is required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones, he added.

These three consortium partners will fly in 16 green zones. The data generated will be announced and shared, Mr Scindia informed. Drone delivery of medicines will be the new model for the country, Mr Scindia added.

Any new technology must benefit common people. Otherwise, it will be a futile effort, says our Chief Minister, informed Mr KT Rama Rao while addressing the gathering. The three consortium partners whose drones are being operated today are technology start-ups in drone space. Telangana is a new state. We think like a startup and operate like a startup, he said. He explained how Drones will benefit the common people especially people living in remote localities. The medicine for snakebite is normally not stored in PHCs(Primary Health Centres). With drone delivery, it is possible to quickly deliver it in a remote location, he informed the gathering.

Mr KT Rama Rao urged Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia to set up an Aviation University or Centre of Excellence at Begumpet Airport. We need a skilling centre there, he added. The new Collectorate office at Vikarabad will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister very soon. We will finalise the dates, he told the gathering. Sabita Indra Reddy expressed her happiness in choosing Vikarabad for the launch. Vikram Taploo, CEO, Healthnet Global (Apollo Hospitals) said in the future Drones can be used to transport human organs much faster than before. It will be the future of organ transport. Drones successfully delivered human organs for transplant in the recent past elsewhere in the world. It could be a reality in India very soon, he said.

Vignesh Santhanam, India Lead, Aerospace and Drones, World Economic Forum spoke on the future of medicine from the sky project. Two sectors health care and Aviation are heavily regulated in the world. Now that drone regulations are liberalised, they paved the way for the project Medicines from the Sky. Telangana is the first state in the country to drone deliver medicine. When vaccines are transported, which will happen very soon, Telangana will be the first in Asia to do so, he informed. We will expand this experiment to 6 to 7 states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarati and other states, he added.

Ms Ramadevi Lanka, Director of Emerging Technologies, Govt of Telangana said it is the dream of the state government to see it (the state) for a vibrant drone ecosystem.

Member of Parliament, Chevella Dr Ranjit Reddy urged the Union Government to set up an Aviation University at Begumpet.

Ms Nikhila, Collector & District Magistrate Vikarabad District said Telangana now has a unique distinction of the first Indian state to have delivered medicine through Drones, an alternative transport system. And that too it is happening in Vikarabad, which is also known as Telangana Ooty.

Dr Suresh Munuswamy of the Indian Institute of Public Health, a healthcare partner for Marut Drones described drone delivery of medicine as Sky Bridge.

Marut Drone’s Hepicopter part of the Medicine From The Sky BVLOS operations is for a long-range of 40 km for medical delivery with heavy payloads of 16 kgs. These drones are equipped to handle multiple temperature-controlled boxes for safe, reliable medical supplies. This will enable medical delivery from Drones to penetrate the remote inaccessible areas. This will ensure timely delivery without worrying about the terrain, weather, traffic congestion. And it is also safe and environmentally friendly.

Prem Kumar Vislawath, Founder and Chief Innovator of Marut Drones said, their Drones are heavy-duty drones that can carry 16 kgs of weight. They can carry temperature-sensitive medicine. The operations of delivery of the Medicine From Sky project will commence from September 20 to 26th and the data will be analysed and studied for more efficacy. The drones are slightly modified to carry medicines, blood samples, diagnostic samples and COVID vaccines he shared. According to him, each of their drones cost Rs 16 lakhs. They are assembled and designed by Marut Drones.

It is a great feeling to see that indigenously manufactured/made in India drones seen delivering made in India COVID vaccines. It is a proud moment for all of us at Marut Drones, Prem Kumar added. All the drones are autonomous. They can control temperatures from 3 to 80 degrees.

According to Dr Suresh Munuswamy of the Indian Institute of Public Health, India has 30,000 PHCs and 2 lakh sub-centres. Telangana has 1000 PHCs. 5 to 10 percent of PHCs, i.e nearly 3000 PHCs that are inaccessible will get benefitted immensely through this system.