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Telangana passes safety workshop for medicine delivery through drones program; trials to begin soon

Drones

The Telangana government successfully completed a virtual hazard identification and risk mitigation (HIRM) workshop that was held to ensure that the State’s medicine delivery through drones operations are conducted safely and securely. This ensures that the government’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project can be started soon.

According to a release by the Telangana IT And Industries department, 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 are tentatively expected to begin in the last week of June.

How does the workshop help in securing drone operations?

  • The workshop explored potential hazards and mitigation strategies during the upcoming trials by discussing the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA ) 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.
  • The SORA methodology of Joint Authorities for Rule-making on Unmanned Systems (JARUS), group of experts from 63 countries including 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.

The workshop was held with all concerned stakeholders from key organizations such as Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, Niti Aayog, Vikarabad District Collectorate and others.

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 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 -Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana

What is Medicine from the Sky?

The ‘Medicine from the Sky’ is an initiative of the Government of Telangana, 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 delivery of vaccines using the identified airspace of the Vikarabad district.

Seven consortia between logistics companies and drone operators have partnered with the Telangana Government for its “Medicine in the Sky” project. The companies include logistics players like Mahindra Logistics, Blue Dart and Dunzo and drone operators like Sagar Defence and Marut Dronetech.

Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation granted Telangana government exemption from the UAS Rules 2021 and granted permission for conducting beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations. Apart from the Ministry of Civil Aviation permission, the Telangana government has got approval from the Airports Authority of India (AA), but is awaiting final approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs which is currently conducting a review.

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Under Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) operations, the pilot of the drone has to maintain continuous, unaided visual contact with the unmanned aircraft, whereas under BVLOS drone operations pilots can operate a drone remotely, without the need to continuously be within visual range.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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