Drone Based Delivery of Medical Essentials Launched In Pune District

The UK and India have come together to conduct trials of a novel technology platform that enables multiple deliveries of medical essentials by maintaining a cold chain in a single drone flight. Experts said that this will be a boon for people living in remote areas.

Volar Alta in partnership with the KEM Hospital Research Centre (KEMHRC), MIT World Peace University, Pune, and supported by the UK Government today launched the Sanjeevan Bharat Programme- an end-to-end technology solution for drone-based delivery of medical essentials at the primary health center in Avsari Khurd in Ambegaon taluka of Pune district, Maharashtra.

“This Sanjeevan Bharat Program of KEM and Volar Alta, with support from ‘Make in India’ drones will be the game changer for reaching the unreached populations in difficult terrains of our country, especially the hilly and tribal areas”, Dr. Sanjay Juvekar, prof and head, KEMHRC Pune.

At the drone-based delivery trial, Deputy Head of the British High Commission Office in Mumbai, Catherine Barnes, said, “The drone technology I saw today represents a hugely important advance in our ability to deliver essential medical supplies to remote communities. This technology has the potential to improve and save millions of lives. The UK government is proud to support such technology development, which is in line with the UK-India 2030 Roadmap agreed by the British and Indian Prime Ministers. I congratulate Volar Alta for being at the forefront of this kind of cutting-edge innovation.”

This unique technology platform is novel in the following ways:

Drone Agnostic Platform: Bring drones of different makes and capacities on one common platform to serve different kinds of needs of the healthcare systems.

Custom payload: Made from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, these lightweight containers are equipped with an IoT-enabled locking mechanism, and a Peltier system to enable maintenance of cold-chain without ice packs. In addition to cold-chain and regular medical essentials, these payloads will also be capable of transporting various organs.

Business model: The operating model will make the solution accessible to a wide range of rural health centers on account of cost optimization and the operational effectiveness of the flight.

“By establishing an on-demand logistics network to transport medical essentials to rural health centers across Maharashtra, we’re building the foundation for drone-based deliveries of a broader range of items using the delivery and inventory-handling infrastructure created by us. This can be useful in emergencies, routine and enable life science companies to conduct clinical trials for populations in inaccessible areas. Idea is to bring drones of different makes and capacities on one common platform to serve different kinds of needs of the healthcare & food distribution systems”, said Niharika Kolte Alekar, Founder & CEO of Volar Alta Private Limited.

Rutuja Patil Research Scientist at KEMHRC Pune, said, “Drones have been demonstrated for delivery of medical essentials by multiple agencies across India, however, although the technology is available and is upgrading day by day, routinely implementing the technology requires robust evidence in terms of applicability and scalability. We are working to create this evidence for the implementers.”

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