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COVID Vaccine Delivery: Govt Invites Bids For Drones

New Delhi: With Union government inviting bids, drones delivering COVID-19 vaccines to remote parts of India could soon be a reality.

On behalf of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), HLL Infra Tech Services Limited invited expression of interest for delivery of medical supplies (vaccines/drugs) by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at select locations in the country.

UAV or drone operators will be engaged to operate beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) in pre-defined or pre-approved flight paths to deliver COVID vaccines.

HLL has specified that the drone should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35 km at a vertical altitude of at least 100 metres, take off vertically, carry minimum payload of 4 kg and is capable of returning to home base.

It has been made clear that parachute-based delivery will not be preferred.

The agreement will be for 90 days, but can be extended depending on the performance of UAV operator and demand, HLL stated.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) had granted ICMR conditional exemption almost two months ago to conduct feasibility study of vaccine delivery through drones.

The ICMR has tied up with IIT-Kanpur for the project.

Telangana, which was the first state government to receive go-ahead for experimental delivery of vaccines using drones, will be partnering with Flipkart for the project. A six-day pilot project will be carried out in the southern state before the launch of ‘Medicines from the Sky’ project.