Logistics giant Blue Dart is all set to start the testing of drone delivery systems under its new entity, Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium. The development processed after the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Director-General of Civil Aviation permitted Telangana to use unmanned drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
Recently, the nodal ministry had allowed Swiggy, Dunzo and ShopX and many other firms to carry out experimental drone flight operations in India beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). BVLOS operations are remotely piloted beyond the visibility of the remote operator.
Balfour Manuel, Managing Director at Blue Dart said, “As the corporation, Blue Dart has always been working with the technology of the tomorrow. It’s this ability that has helped us to not only survive the pandemic but also flourish with growth. Whereas we are reaching out to more than 35,000 locations across the country, the current situation demands way more vaccine supply.”
The approval has marked an important step for startups and other corporates who are using drones for various activities. Even though Blue Dart has become the first private company to operate drones for the aim of payload deliveries, it’ll still not be allowed to use drones for commercial purposes.
Recently, The Telangana government has signed a partnership with World Economic Forum and HealthNet International for a project named ‘Medicine from the Sky’. For this project, they have been granted this exemption from the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021. Blue Dart is one of eight corporations to have shortlisted to participate in the implementation of drones for delivering medical goods.
MoCA has earlier restricted drone operations within the visual range of sight. But the rising covid cases in the country has given hope to the Beyond the Visual Line of Sight(BVLOS) operations of Drones, to deliver medicines and various covid relief resources.
According to the Drone Federation of India, the tests are going to assess the viability of drones in bettering the medical supply chains. The test studies drone deliveries of food, blood, medicines, medical samples, etc.,
Similar testing processes have started in many states other than Telangana too. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) working with IIT Kanpur was also allowed to test drones for vaccine delivery. ISRO too had licenced a test of drones by Garuda Aerospace to deliver medicines and necessities in the locality that houses the establishment’s employees in the state.