An aviation company has conducted the first tests in India for long-range drone delivery as hopes grow that it can supply COVID-19 drugs and vaccines to remote areas.
Greater use of drones could change the game medical services in the hard-to-reach rural areas of the South Asian nation, where health is limited and roads are often poor, experts say.
Throttle Aerospace Systems is one of 20 organizations that the government has granted permits since May to conduct pilot flights beyond the current 450-meter (1,475-foot) limit.
Two unmanned aircraft, one that can carry up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds) for 20 kilometers (12 miles) or nearly an hour, and another that can lift two kilograms for 15 kilometers, were tested Monday at state of Karnataka.
“The medicines were the payload here and … they covered 2.5 kilometers in seven minutes and delivered the medicines to the designated point and place drone returned, “Throttle co-founder Sebastian Anto told AFP at the test site in the state of Karnataka.
The head of epidemiology at the Indian Council for Medical Research, Samiran Panda, told The Hindu newspaper that the technology could help vaccinate priority groups in hard-to-reach places.
“We need smart vaccination instead of mass vaccination to curb an epidemic,” Panda told the newspaper last week.
India lags behind many other nations in terms of drones — or drones — both in terms of their uses and the regulatory framework.
According to current regulations, they must fly in full view, or less than 450 meters, of their operators on the ground.
In Germany, researchers are reportedly testing prototypes of drones that can track disaster victims by their cries.
In Australia, drones are used that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect crocodiles and count koalas on steep terrain.
India, home to 1.3 billion people spread over about 3.2 million square kilometers (1.15 million square miles), is the seventh largest country in the world by land mass.
“Drones technology would have a big impact in those areas where emergency medicines and vaccines could be supplied,” Vipul Singh, co-founder of the pressure group of the Drones Federation of India, told AFP.
“When it takes a few hours to travel 20-30 kilometers by road, while a drone can travel that distance in 10 to 15 minutes,” said Singh, also co-founder of Aarav’s unmanned systems, based in Bangalore.
© 2021 AFP
Citation: India tests longer-range drone flights, notes COVID-19 vaccine deliveries (2021, June 22) recovered on June 22, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06- india-longer-range-drone-flights- ulls.html
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