DEHRADUN: Even as reports of COVID-19 vaccination likely to start in the coming weeks surfaced, the Drone Application and Research Centre (DARC) under the Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA) is setting up its devices to supply the vaccine in the remote areas of the hill state.
“Successful trials have been conducted last month to deliver vaccines in remote areas of the hills. This can be an effective method to deliver vaccines in less time and cost," says Amit Sinha, inspector general, Uttarakhand police and director of ITDA.
In a trial flight, a fixed-wing drone carrying a vaccine of a disease in an ice-box from the DARC was flown from Dehradun to Mussoorie.
Officials added that the results were more than promising. The drone took about 60 minutes to reach its destination in Mussoorie hills and return after delivering the package.
Earlier, drones have been utilised to carry blood samples of a patient from Dehradun to a village in Tehri Garhwal.
The ITDA, which has total 12 drones including Quadcopters and fixed-wing vehicles, is also planning to collaborate with private and individual drone users and developers to expand the project.
The state government has already set up a task force at state, district and block level to implement and monitor the vaccination process once it starts. However, final decision to deliver Covid vaccine using drones is yet to be taken on state government levels.
Amit Negi, state health secretary said, "We are aware of the trials and decision regarding this will be taken in due course of time after assessing the feasibility and other factors."
Uttarakhand has already been using drones to detect forest fires, poaching, policing, mapping properties to check tax evasion and also in disaster management.
The state government has planned to establish India's first Drone Project Management Unit for research, development and to train officials and staff of various departments to operate and use drones in wildlife conservation, mining operations, and various other areas. The unit is being planned to be established at Sahastradhara Road in 24000 square meter area.
In December 2018, Uttarakhand became the first state in India to have a special force of drones to keep check on wildlife crimes. 'Forest Drone Force' with 25 drones focuses on preventing poaching and various other anti-wildlife and anti-environment activities, forest fires, illegal mining, patrolling high altitude areas of the state, illegal tree felling and many more.
On February 19-20 this year, the second edition of “India Drone Festival- Dronathon @Dronagiri 2.0” was organised by the Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA).
Inaugurated by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat with the theme 'Anti-drone Technology', the festival was organized to address various issues related to 'Counter Drone' technologies to promote the creation of intelligent solutions in the future.
Officials of around 20 companies from across the country attended the event which focussed on addressing various issues related to counter-drone technologies to promote the creation of intelligent solutions.
A DARC Mapper Software was released during the inauguration ceremony which generates professional maps, elevation models, 3D models, and point clouds from aerial images.