In a unique demonstration of technological prowess with a human touch, the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) air delivered COVID-19 vaccines through their drone called Octacopter at a primary health centre here on the city outskirts on Saturday.
The Octacopter successfully delivered 50 vials of Covid-19 vaccines along with syringes in a special container from Chandapura PHC to Haragadde PHC, NAL said in a statement. “CSIR-NAL’s octacopter took off at 9.43 am from Chandapura PHC carrying COVID-19 vaccines and delivered it to Haragadde PHC at 9.53 am.
Octacopter flew at an altitude of 300m AGL at a speed of 10 metres per sec and covered an aerial distance of about 7 kms in about 10 minutes,” the NAL, a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said. After delivery of vaccines at Haragadde, the drone returned to Chandapura PHC, NAL said adding, the entire mission has covered distance of about 14 km in 20 minutes including delivery of vaccines.
“It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes to deliver vaccines to Haragadde from Chandapura by road. The Doctors at PHCs were delighted to witness the demonstration of the fast and safe aerial delivery of vaccines,” Dr Manisha of the Karnataka Health Department was quoted as saying.
The medical officers expressed happiness and complimented CSIR-NAL for their societal cause and assured support to continue the joint initiative to remote places in the coming days.
Dr P V Satyanaraya Murthy, Head of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle division, at CSIR-NAL congratulated his team and said the Octacopter was the need of the hour for delivery of vaccines in the remote areas.
“NAL Octacopter is perfectly designed for such a mission which is easy to operate by unskilled operators. NAL has already tied up with private firms for drone manufacturing and offering operational services,” NAL quoted Murthy as saying.
It said the Octacopter is an indigenously developed medium class BVLOS multi-copter UAV.
The UAV is made out of light weight 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, the NAL said.
It further said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has granted conditional permission to CSIR-NAL for conducting BVLOS flight trials on Saturday.
The Octacopter can carry a payload of 15 kg with hovering endurance of 40 minutes. It can fly at an operational altitude of 500 m AGL and at maximum flying speed of 36 kmph.
“Its regulatory compliance includes DGCA-NPNT, Geo fencing and digital sky with 360 degree Collision avoidance making it one of the best UAV in its class.
Octacopter developed by NAL can be used for variety of BVLOS applications for last mile delivery like medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, human organ’s etc,” the NAL said