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COVID-19 vaccine delivery through drones? Centre invites bids

The objective of the project is to develop a medical supplies delivery model for remote inaccessible areas through UAVs.

The UAV should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35 km and carry a minimum payload of 4 kg. The UAV should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35 km and carry a minimum payload of 4 kg.

The Centre has invited Expression of Interest (EoI) from experienced Indian agencies for delivering COVID-19 vaccines and drugs by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone at various locations in India.

HLL Infra Tech Services Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary of HLL Lifecare Ltd, has invited EoI on behalf of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for delivery of medical supplies at remote locations in the country. The objective of the project is to develop a medical supplies delivery model for remote inaccessible areas through UAVs.

The last date for submission of online bids through Central Public Procurement Portal is 1 pm on June 22, while the submitted bids will be opened on the same day, as per the EoI.

In the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, ICMR had conducted a successful feasibility study to deliver vaccines by UAV in collaboration with IIT, Kanpur with the objective to strengthen delivery of vaccines.

"Based on the preliminary results of the study, ICMR has developed a standard protocol for successful delivery of vaccines using a UAV. Now, based on the experience gained in the feasibility study ICMR is keen to develop a model for vaccine delivery by UAV in the field practice area to reach areas to cover last-mile coverage at difficult terrain in selected locations," the document said.

ICMR will engage UAV operators to operate Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) in fixed pre-defined/ pre-approved flight paths and deliver medical supplies payload at selected locations in India and return to the command station.

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"The UAV operator shall be responsible for establishing, installing, operating and maintaining UAV based system for delivery of medical supplies (vaccines/ drugs). Also, the UAV operator must adhere to safety guidelines as per the regulations by Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Govt of India for operating BVLOS- UAV," the EoI said.

ICMR may support the shortlisted operator in getting DGCA approval for delivery of medical supplies.

The UAV should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35 km and carry a minimum payload of 4 kg, as per the EoI. Besides, it should be have a vertical altitude of minimum of 100 metre.

The tenure of engagement will be for a period of 90 days initially, which can be extended further depending on the performance of the UAV operator and need of the program.

Earlier in April, the Centre earlier granted permission to Telangana government's 'Medicine from the Sky' project to use drones for experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccine. The pilot project is likely to begin in June, with a total of 10,000 vials to be delivered from a central location to primary health centres.

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