Telangana to Begin Drone Delivery of COVID Vaccines

13 Jun, 2021 09:27 IST|Sakshi Post

The ‘Medicine from the Sky’ initiative of the Government of Telangana, spearheaded by the Emerging Technologies Wing of the ITE&C Department, is in partnership with World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global. The project entails undertaking experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights for the delivery of vaccines using the identified airspace of the Vikarabad district.

To ensure that the operations are conducted safely and securely, a Virtual HIRM (Hazard identification and risk mitigation) workshop was held on the 11th of June, 2021 with all the concerned stakeholders from key organizations viz. MoCA, DGCA, AAI, BCAS, NITI Aayog, and the Vikarabad District Collectorate participated. The workshop was opened with remarks from Sri Jayesh Ranjan, Prl. Secretary to Government of Telangana; Smt. Anna Roy, Senior Advisor in NITI Aayog; Sri Amber Dubey, Jt. Secretary to MoCA; Smt. Pausami Basu, District Collector of the Vikarabad District; Sri Purushottam Kaushik, Head of Centre for fourth Industrial Revolution at World Economic Forum India; and Smt. Rama Devi Lanka, OSD and Director of Emerging Technologies Wing at ITE&C Department, Government of Telangana. This was followed by presentations by representatives from the eight participating consortia (drone technology partners).

The successful completion of this workshop is a major milestone in the Medicine from the Sky project as it ensures all concerns have been suitably addressed and the operations can be started soon. The proceedings of this HIRM workshop shall be included as part of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of all the drone technology partners for approval from the DGCA. The first phase of flights with select consortia is tentatively expected to begin in the last week of June.

The workshop explored potential hazards and mitigation strategies during the upcoming trials by discussing the CONOPS (Concept of Operations) and SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) of the flights in the Vikarabad airspace. The CONOPS included a detailed description of operations, various system checks, communication protocols, daily flight planning, roles & responsibilities of both crew and officials, etc. to ensure smooth conduct of the trials.

Further, the SORA methodology of Joint Authorities for Rule-making on Unmanned Systems (JARUS), a group of experts from 63 countries incl. India was followed to quantify both the ground and air risk. A final Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels (SAIL) score of ‘II’ was calculated on combining the quantified risks and accounting for strategic and tactical mitigations. A SAIL score of ‘II’ on a scale of ‘VI’ indicates low risk.

Shri. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana, quoted that “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.”

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