Dunzo Set to Pilot Drone Delivery of Medicines, COVID-19 Vaccines in Telangana

Dunzo on Tuesday announced that it is all set to pilot drone delivery of medicines under the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project launched by the Telangana government in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The Google-backed delivery startup is leading a Med-Air consortium along with industry experts to conduct experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery flights for the project that is aimed to enable emergency medical deliveries that could include COVID-19 vaccines and other essentials. Dunzo is amongst the entities that were recently allowed by the central government to conduct BVLOS experimental flights using drones.

The drone delivery system will focus on an end-to-end ecosystem for drone-based logistic transportation and will utilise the existing logistics network of the Telangana state to enable medical supplies in its different districts, Dunzo said in a statement. The deliveries will be based on the central government’s recent regulation policies for low-altitude airspace for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Although the exact timeline of the pilot is yet to be revealed, Dunzo told Gadgets 360 that it was working to roll its drone deliveries out as soon as it received the go-ahead from local authorities.

“We believe our participation in the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project will facilitate a more connected state and country, allowing people almost instantaneous access to vaccines and medicines from the most populous to most remote areas in India in the near future,” Kabeer Biswas, CEO and Founder, Dunzo Digital said.

The Telangana government has partnered with the World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global for the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project. This is aimed to ensure delivery of essentials including medicines and vaccines continue to be supported amid infrastructural challenges and lockdowns, Dunzo said.

“Telangana is one of the most proactive states looking to adopt emerging technologies, and the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project using drones is in line with the same principles,” Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, ITE&C Department, Government of Telangana said. “This project is one of the first such programmes in the country where multiple drones would fly BVLOS to establish their value proposition for the healthcare supply chain.”

Last month, the Ministry of Civil Aviation released a list of as many as 20 entities that have been allowed to conduct BVLOS experimental drone flights. That list included Dunzo alongside companies such as SpiceJet and Swiggy. That order also mentioned the ClearSky consortium that has Vodafone Idea and Zomato among its 13 participants.

Dunzo claimed that it has witnessed a 350 percent growth in medicine orders since January, owing to the growth of COVID-19 spread in the country. The startup facilitated the delivery of over 20,000 orders to hospitals between March and May. Alongside order deliveries to hospitals, Dunzo said that it hosted the delivery of home-cooked meals, oximeters, and other medical aid that resulted in a growth of 204 percent in its pick-up and drop orders.

Currently available in eight cities — Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, and Jaipur — Dunzo is planning to take on the likes of Swiggy Genie and Uber Connect by expanding its operations to 20 cities by 2022.