Hepicopter gets regulatory nod to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in India’s state of Telangana

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Hepicopter, the medical delivery subsidiary of the Hyderabad-based drone company Marut Dronetech, will be exclusively moving Covid-19 vaccines and other medical supplies in the Vikarabad district of Telangana for the next one year as the state government today received permission for the pilot from the central government.

The drones will be serving around 15 public health centres (PHCs) in and around 30 kilometres of the district and all drones will be operated from its central hub in the district hospital of Vikarabad.

Prem Kumar Vislawath, founder & chief innovator of Marut Dronetech, said, “The delivery works on a hub-and-spoke model. The team gets a message on the inventory needed. This is loaded at the central hub, and the drones take off, after the regular pre-flight tests and checks of wind conditions, audio pilot systems, and GPS tracker. The coordinates are fed into the systems and the health examiner picks up the vials at the drop-off point.”

“We are working with Public Health Foundation of India, Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH) and Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati for the experiment," he added.

Ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have today granted a conditional exemption for drone deployment to the government of Telangana for experimental delivery of Covid-19 vaccines within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) range using drones.

Earlier this month, similar permission was granted to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for conducting a feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones in collaboration with IIT Kanpur.

Marut Dronetech was founded by a team of IIT Guwahati Alumni, passionate about solving some of the most persisting global problems.

Vislawath said, “Marut Dronetech autonomous drones can be dispatched remotely on-demand or at scheduled intervals from a command & control centre by operators, to the medical warehouse, PHCs, or a location of an incident to collect or provide the medical samples/vaccinations.”

“Hepicopter is accessible through a mobile app to enable the medical delivery drone to penetrate into remote inaccessible areas where PHCs providers can get daily supplies at a press of a button within few minutes,” he added.

Watch Marut Dronetech's Prem Kumar Vislawath speaking at the cargo drone webinar
organised by STAT Media Group in May 2020

Using the two temperature-controlled, completely autonomous, precision landing medical drone variants, Hepicopter will airlift blood, vaccines, diagnostic medical samples and long-tail medicines to hospitals and PHCs identified by the state government.

Hepicopter 1.0 is a multirotor wing battery-powered drone with a payload capacity of 10 kg, a maximum range of 15 km, a maximum endurance of 30 mins and a flying altitude of 400 ft.

This drone can keep 4 boxes and each box can carry up to 10 units of blood and over 500 doses of vaccines. So, on a single flight, they can deliver 2,000 to 3,000 doses of vaccines.

Hepicopter 2.0 is a landing rotary-wing, gasoline-powered drone with a payload capacity of 5 kg, a maximum endurance limit of 80 mins, a range of 80 km and a flying altitude of 400 ft - 12000ft.

This drone can keep two boxes and can carry up to 1,000 doses of vaccines.

This drone deployment is part of ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project launched by World Economic Forum along with the government of Telangana, in which Hepicopter and Marut is a participant.

“On March 14, 2020, we have received the requisite permissions and exceptions from DGCA, MoCA for the demonstration of medical delivery drone in “Wings India 2020” event in Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad, Telangana. Officials from the MoCA, DGCA, WEF, Telangana govt, Apollo Hospital and Medicine from Sky team were present at the demonstration. Post successful demonstration of the event they launched the project,” he said.


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