India enters Drone era – NAL’s drone delivers Covid-19 vaccine and medicines in remote villages and hilly states


Drones have been touted as a potential solution to bridge the last-mile supply chain problem in dense urban areas and remote terrains Inaccessible by traditional modes of transport. India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) recently conducted a unique technology demonstration by delivering COVID-19 vaccines through an ‘Octacopter’ class drone nicknamed “Octa Med.”

Indian union minister Dr Jitendra Singh launching the drone

NAL developed the indigenous, medium class Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) multi-copter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a.k.a drone. The UAV is made out of light weight carbon fiber has unique features like autonomous guidance through dual redundant MEMS based digital Autopilot with advanced flight instrumentation systems.

CSIR-NAL teamed with the Government of Karnataka to pilot aerial delivery of covid-19 vaccine’s in the remote areas of the Southern State. The Octacopter successfully delivered 50 vials of Covid-19 vaccines along with syringes in a special container traveling from Chandapura Primary Health Center (PHC) to Haragadde PHC. Flying at an altitude of 300m at a speed of 10m/sec, the drone covered an aerial distance of about 7 kms in about 10 minutes.

Octacopter, image via IE

The Doctors at PHCs were delighted to witness the demonstration of the fast and safe aerial delivery of vaccines. Medical Officer Dr Manisha told correspondents that it generally takes about 30-40 minutes to deliver vaccines to Haragadde by road.

The drone can be used for a number of BVLOS applications like last mile delivery of medicines, vaccines, Human organs for transplant, food, postal packets, etc. The indigenously developed drone can be used at low cost in especially mountain states like Jammu and, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh with unmotorable terrain.

NAL has also been collaborating with private firms and startups to scale up drone manufacturing and to offer operational services to clients.

Other links and References

  • CSIR – National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) 
  • PIB: Multicopter DRONE design & developed by National Aerospace Laboratories- NAL has successfully demonstrated Covid-19 Vaccine delivery at remote location in outskirts of Bengaluru
  • Weather.com – Drones Successfully Deliver COVID-19 Vaccine Doses in a Remote Village in Karnataka
  • Ministry of Science & Technology – NAL Launches aerial delivery of Covid-19 vaccine through Octacopter drones in Jammu

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