May 16, 2021: To revolutionize the vaccine delivery and emergency medical supplies to the remote parts of India with drones, logistics giant Blue Dart has formed Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium. This consortium is an integral part of the 'Medicine from the Sky' project, which was launched in 2019, in conjunction with the Telangana government, World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog, and Healthnet Global – a report by Times of India stated. This development comes after the Director-General of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Civil Aviation jointly permitted Telangana to use drones on an experimental basis for Covid-19 vaccine delivery. The objective is to evaluate a safe and reliable alternative logistics route for the delivery of medical essentials from the distribution centre to specific locations and reach out to the masses in times of crisis.
Blue Dart, South Asia's leading express air and integrated transportation & Distribution Company and a part of the Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) Group, is always committed to improving the supply chain structure in India and is on a mission to fight the global pandemic. The Blue Dart Med-Express Drone flights have decided to implement a smart drone delivery solution to augment the current healthcare logistics in Telangana. This model will facilitate deliveries from district medical stores and blood banks to Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres, Blood Storage Units and Central Diagnostic laboratories.
Mr. Balfour Manuel, Blue Dart’s Managing Director, said, "As an organization, Blue Dart has always been surrounded with the technology of the future. It is this ability that has helped us to not only withstand the pandemic but thrive with growth. While we reach out to over 35,000 locations across the country, the current situation calls for a much deeper penetration of vaccines."
Blue Dart is among the 7 players to get permission to start Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) trial drone flights as a pilot project. The other players include Dunzo Med-Air Consortium, Hepicopter, and Airserve Initiatives. They were selected out of the 16 applications received to undertake BVLOS drone flights as part of the 'Medicine from the Sky' project. The trials are likely to begin at the end of May or the first week of June this year. As vaccines have specific temperature requirements, these drones would likely be different from the usual drones with payloads. During the trial period, the drones will carry a combination of dummy vials and regular vaccines and their performances would be captured for further policies in the future when full-scale adoption will occur.
Blue Dart’s CMO and head of business development, Mr. Ketan Kulkarni said that the drones must possess important safety features like detect & avoid systems and collision avoidance as they will carry life-saving drugs. Further, the payload box will have a real-time payload health tracking system to ensure that the necessary temperature is not violated during the travel. Also, the drones will have Uncrewed Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) support functions, which will allow the local Air Traffic Controller (ATC) to see the drone telemetry in real-time.
We have never needed empathy more than we do now in these turbulent times. Many leading companies have come forward to express solidarity in the wake of the second Covid-19 wave. For example, Maruti Suzuki India has extended its free service and warranty period up to the end of June. Similarly, MG Motor India has extended until July 31, 2021, and Toyota Kirloskar has lengthened the warranty and customer-paid extended warranty period by a month in states where Covid- 19 restrictions are imposed.
Many brands like TropoGo have used their social media handles to increase the requests for hospitals beds and oxygen supply, so that they reach the maximum number of people. LinkedIn has ensured that learning never stops, even during the pandemic and so it made many ‘LinkedIn Learning’ courses free amidst the Covid-19 surge. Given that people are confined to their homes, Google Meet has ensured that they remain connected with each other always; thus, it has extended its free 'unlimited' video calls until June 2021.
In uncertain times like these, the kind gestures that different companies are extending, speak volumes about their social responsible approach. The juxtaposition of humanity and technology in life will help to rekindle hope, even in adversity.