Launching the first-of-its-kind Drone driven aerial delivery facility to transport COVID vaccine, as well as Emergency Medicines to inaccessible and difficult areas in a short span of time, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh on Sunday, said that while Pakistan Drone carries explosives to spread terror and threaten human lives, the Indian drone has assumed the role of a COVID warrior to carry life-saving Vaccine and life-saving medicines for safety and well-being of mankind. This indeed is the fundamental difference between the two countries, he said.
Referring to the first consignment of 50 vials of COVID vaccine which was dropped by the Drone near the International Border (IB) in Marh area, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the "Octacopter" Drone which was developed indigenously at Bengaluru at the initiative of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) under the Ministry of Science & Technology, is truly a massenger of peace, while Pakistan is using Drone to disrupt peace. The Indian Drone has carried to the International Border the message of protecting lives from COVID and, ensuring health and well being for everybody.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Jitendra Singh said, India's Vaccination drive has turned into a mass campaign and every citizen is trying to make an appropriate contribution to it. "We, in the Ministry of Science & Technology, also decided to join Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign by developing a Drone which would reach households in far-flung and difficulty areas which lack means of transport and thus the Drone would perform the function of knocking at the door of every home to ensure that not a single person remains without vaccination", he added.
On the occasion, Dr Jitendra Singh, in the presence of Advisor Health to Lieutenant Governor Jammu & Kashmir Rajeev Bhatnagar, formally handed over the first consignment of COVID vaccine to Drone operators, who then mounted the same on the Drone which it took off for its air journey.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that the successful aerial delivery of Covid-19 vaccine from CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu to Government Sub-District Hospital, Marh, Jammu, shows the commitment of the Modi Government towards healthcare needs of the masses in remote areas. The road distance from Jammu to Marh is about 15 km and takes 50 to 60 minutes by road, but the Octacopter delivered the vaccine within 20 minutes. CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) and CSIR-IIIM have teamed with the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of Jammu for aerial delivery of Covid-19 vaccine in remote areas .
Dr Jitendra Singh said that delivery of vials of COVID-19 Vaccine through Octacopter will go a long way in fulfilling Prime Minister’s “Har Ghar Dastak” campaign for special house-to-house Covid-19 vaccination drive. He said, India has administered over 120 crore total doses of the Covid-19 vaccine so far, but there is need for adopting unconventional methods to vaccinate 65 percent population living in rural and remote inaccessible hilly areas. The Minister informed that the Octacopter can carry a payload of 10 kg with range of 20 kilometers and it can fly at an operational altitude of 500 meters AGL and at a maximum flying speed of 36 kmph.
Referring to the recent monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat, where PM Modi said, "One of the things that is capturing people's imagination is the usage of drones in India”, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that more such live demonstrations will be carried out by CSIR in actual remote inaccessible hilly areas like Kishtwar, Rajoouri, Poonch and Bhadarwah. He said, for instance, by road, medicines to reach remote PHC Sunat thawa from Bhaderwah healthcare center takes around 3 hrs to cover 74 kms, but by drone it can be delivered within 15 minute, which will be a boon for the rural people. The Minister noted with satisfaction that CSIR-NAL has forged collaborations with start-up M/s IoTech World, Gurgaon, Bliss Aerospace, Bangalore and M/s Scientch, Indore to take forward drone technology to end-user.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) has come up with Octacopter drones to deliver medical supplies which will help in better resource management of limited supplies and facilitate just-in-time delivery to the current supply chain system. The smart inventory management of stocks can help to ease the current burden as well as deal with the shortage crises of vaccines and medicine supply to remote locations, he added.
The Minister said that the Octacopter has compliance to DGCA-NPNT, Geo fencing and digital sky with 360 degree Collision avoidance making it one of the best UAV of its class. He also added that the Octacopter developed by NAL can be used for a variety of BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) applications for last-mile delivery of medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, Human organs etc. The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India has granted conditional permission to CSIR-NAL for conducting BVLOS flight trials on 13th September 2021.
CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL), has developed indigenous, medium class BVLOS multi-copter UAV. The UAV is made out of lightweight carbon fiber foldable structure for ease of transportation and has unique features like autonomous guidance through dual redundant MEMS based digital Autopilot with advanced flight instrumentation systems. NAL Octacopter is integrated with Powerful onboard embedded computer and latest generation sensors for versatile applications like agricultural pesticide spraying, crop monitoring, mining survey, magnetic geo survey mapping etc.
It may be noted that Drone technology, now inexpensive and accessible, is continuously evolving and being put to several novel uses around the world. Drones are increasingly finding applications in Geography mapping, Disaster management, Precision agriculture, Search and rescue operations, etc., more importantly in drone-based medicine distribution systems.