Medical Drone Delivery Trials To Begin Soon in India, Ensures Telangana’s HIRM Workshop

16 June 2021 | 02 min read
Medical Drone Delivery Trials To Begin Soon in India, Ensures Telangana’s HIRM Workshop

June 16, 2021: According to a Medianama report, the government of Telangana has completed the virtual Hazard Identification and Risk Mitigation (HIRM) workshop, on June 11, with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airports Authority of India (AAI), Niti Aayog, and senior officials from Vikarabad District Collectorate. As per a release by the Telangana IT And Industries department, the proceedings of the workshop shall be included as part of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the drone technology partners for DGCA nod.

The HIRM workshop was held to explore the potential hazards and mitigation strategies and also to ensure that Telangana’s medicine delivery via drones is conducted safely and securely. This means that the first phase of trial flights under the state government’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project can kick-start as early as this month-end with select consortia. The companies include the likes of Blue Dart, Dunzo, Mahindra Logistics, and drone operators like Marut Dronetech and Sagar Defence.

As part of the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights will be used for vaccine delivery by using the identified airspace in Vikarabad. Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana said, “The objective of Medicine from the Sky is to generate insights that can drive future adoption strategies and policy interventions for inclusion of drones in the healthcare supply chain. The eventual goal is to integrate drone deliveries with existing systems and enable urban grade infrastructure even for remote and rural areas.”

Impact of the HIRM workshop

The workshop aimed to secure drone operations and so the following things were kept in mind:

  • Detailed discussion on the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) of the drone flights in the Vikarabad airspace.
  • The CONOPS included a thorough description of operations, system checks, communication protocols, daily flight planning, roles & responsibilities of crew members and officials to ensure smooth conduct of the trials.
  • The SORA methodology of Joint Authorities for Rule-making on Uncrewed Systems (JARUS), group of experts from 60+ countries including India, was followed to measure the ground and air risks.
  • A Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels (SAIL) score of ‘II’ (on a scale of ‘VI’) - indicating low-risk- was calculated on combining the measured risks and accounting for strategic and tactical mitigations.

A Pan-India Strategy – A Slow But Steady Start

In India, many states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab, Karnataka, and Rajasthan, are expected to start testing long-range drone flights this month e-commerce, food orders, along with medicine deliveries.

IIT Guwahati and Chennai’s Garuda Aerospace along with the government of Gujarat are working for medicine drone delivery. They have approached the Civil Aviation Ministry to seek the required permission. Also, the Public Health Foundation of India has contacted the ministry for conducting pilot projects in drone delivery of medicines and vaccines.

The first BVLOS medical drone delivery experiment will start on June 18 at Gauribidanur, about 80kms from Bangalore and Throttle Aerospace Systems (TAS) will lead the consortium for BVLOS flights. The drones, which can fly up to 20 km, will forever mark a first for India, which currently permits only drone flights within visual line of sight.

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