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Commercial utilisation of drones to bring quality healthcare to Indians in the remotest areas seems to be a reality now. Redcliffe Labs, a unit of Redcliffe Lifetech in the U.S., has come up with its first commercial drone flight in the country’s healthcare sector. The company has recently opened its commercial drone corridor between Uttarkashi and Dehradun.

Dheeraj Jain, Founder, Redcliffe Labs informed that Uttarkashi to Dehradun by road is 144 km, 6-8 hours by road and 12 hours during a landslide. “But using drone technology this distance was covered in 88 minutes with one battery swap in between," he said.

The project was a part of Redcliffe and Skye Air tie-up and in the past three months they have done 40 successful trials in North India.

Redcliffe Lab, delivered 5 kilograms payload in temperature-controlled boxes from Gyansu, Uttarkashi to Vivek Vihar, Dehradun, which is 60 kilometres aerial distance.

The company said it “will be operating two flights daily for both routine and specialized tests sample collection from June 10, 2022.

The diagnostic service provider aims to reach at least 500 million Indians by 2027. Of the various ways to achieve this target, Jain informed that the company “plans to leverage drone technology to collect Dx samples."

Other organisations are also stepping up commercial drone delivery in remote areas to meet the country’s urgent healthcare needs. According to  the World Economic Forum (WEF), as part of its “Medicine from the Sky" project, healthcare professionals delivered vaccines, Covid-19 testing samples and medical products to a population of over 3,00,000 people represented by eight district health facilities in the Vikarabad district of the southern state of Telangana. 

For the programme-conducted over a 45-day trial-WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution India, partnered with the Government of Telangana, Apollo Hospital’s Healthnet Global, and NITI Aayog. The district was chosen because it includes communities living in the dense forests of the Ananthagiri hills.

The business sectors in India, though skeptical in the beginning, have embraced drones to increase work efficiency and reduce operational cost. According to a report by 6Wresearch, the Indian UAV market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 18% during 2017–23 in terms of revenue. Another study conducted by BIS Research predicted that the market for commercial drones superseded the military market by 2021, cumulatively hitting approximately $900 million.

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