A drone modified for delivering medical supplies ( Image: screen grab from a Garuda Aerospace YouTube video)
Govt invites drone agencies to join country-wide Covid vaccine delivery programme

June 13 2021: The Indian government  has  formally launched an initiative for the  delivery of Covid vaccines and mediciines via drone at locations all across India.
Two days ago, HLL Infra Tech Services Limited, a   government owned medical infrastructure company,   put out a notification on its website, Expression of Interest (EOI) from experienced Indian agencies for  the “Delivery of Medical supplies (Vaccines/ Drugs) by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at various locations in India.”
This builds on the successful trials conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR) and  IIT Kanpur to deliver vaccines by UAVs. Based on the preliminary results of the study, ICMR developed a standard protocol for successful delivery of vaccines using a UAV. Now, based on the experience gained in the feasibility study, government seeks to  roll out drone based vaccine deliveries where ever  it makes sense to do so – presumably in areas otherwise difficult to reach.
HLL Infratech’s EOI document in PDF here   Tender document here
A tender has also been floated to find qualified partners and ICMR  will  engage such  UAV operators to operate Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) in fixed pre-defined and  pre-approved flight paths to deliver  a payload of Medical Supplies ( including vaccines and other drugs ) at selected locations in India and  to return to the command station.
The key requirements spelt out in the tender document:

  • The UAV should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35 Km
  • Vertical altitude of minimum of 100 meters
  • Should be capable of BVLOS flight.
  • The UAV should be capable of returning to home/ command station after delivery of the payload.
  • Payload UAV Shall Take off vertically and carry minimum payload of 4 Kgs.

The only government agency that is already on this path is Telangana state which commenced BVLOS vaccine delivery trials last month with multiple consortia. Now it seems the centre intends to scale this up to an all-India canvas
Our previous stories on Indian  Covid-related drone trials  here  and here