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Indian Firms Get Approval For Drone Delivery Trials Of Food And Medicine

The permission furthers India’s drone capabilities in the private sector.

NEW DELHI — India’s ANRA Technologies, provider of airspace management solutions, and Swiggy, a food delivery platform, have got final clearances from India’s defense ministry, civil aviation ministry, and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to start drone delivery trials for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

With this clearance, drones could be used for delivering food and medicines, a first in India. India has strict regulations over the use of drones by individuals and private entities, and deviation from a long list of guidelines can attract fines of up to INR 500,000 ($6,825).

For the next several weeks, the flight team will conduct BVLOS food deliveries with Swiggy and medical package deliveries with the Indian Institute of Technology in northern Indian state Uttar Pradesh’s Etah and northern Indian state Punjab’s Rupnagar districts using ANRA’s SmartSkies technology.

“We are excited about the potential that drones offer and look forward to trials on BVLOS operations for the use case of food delivery,” Shilpa Gnaneshwar, principal program manager at Swiggy, said.

Swiggy connects consumers to over 100,000 restaurant partners and stores in over 500 cities.

Swiggy connects consumers to over 100,000 restaurant partners and stores in over 500 cities. (Rahul Chakraborty/Unsplash)

ANRA’s flight team is launching its first sortie after months of planning, risk assessments, air traffic control integration, training, equipment preparation, and coordination.

“ANRA’s deep roots in India and my personal family ties make me especially proud to have contributed to this historic moment for India, government stakeholders, and our partners,” Amit Ganjoo, founder and chief executive of ANRA, said.

“Knowing our technology may soon help deliver food, and medical packages to underserved populations is what motivates and unifies our team.”

The civil aviation ministry had granted permission to 20 private consortiums in May to conduct a year-long experiment in BVLOS flights. The consortiums included Swiggy, hyper-local start-up Dunzo, ClearSky Flight Consortium, and Marut Dronetech.

India’s civil aviation authorities also granted permission to begin trials and studies on the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines as the nation battled a severe second wave of the virus.

India allowed the southern state of Telangana to run experimental drone flights from May-end to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to speed up the country’s low inoculation rate.

For the next several weeks, the flight team will conduct BVLOS food deliveries and medical package deliveries in northern Indian state Uttar Pradesh’s Etah and northern Indian state Punjab’s Rupnagar districts using ANRA’s SmartSkies technology. (ANRA Technologies)

The Telangana government’s drone trials are part of its ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project that aims to provide pickup and delivery of health care items like medicines, vaccines, and units of blood through drones.

Drone delivery service Skye Air and its consortia partner hyperlocal start-up Dunzo recently received permission for medicine delivery as part of the Medicine from the Sky initiative.

Walmart-owned e-commerce major Flipkart is also part of a consortium that will deliver vaccines and medical supplies as part of the Telangana government’s project.

India’s civil aviation ministry has also allowed the apex body for biomedical research, the Indian Council of Medical Research, to conduct a feasibility study on Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones for one year.

Out of the selected participants in the program, ANRA is the only Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology provider approved by the civil aviation ministry to lead two consortia as part of this initiative.

One consortium consists of ANRA along with its partners Swiggy, the Indian Institute of Technology in the city of Ropar in Punjab, and BetterDrones, a drone service provider, which will also focus on food delivery.

The second consortium includes ANRA and the Indian Institute of Technology in Ropar and will focus on medical deliveries.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Amrita Das)

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