Officials in India are considering a plan that would use drones to transport urgent medical materials to patients in hospitals, according to CNN. This comes alongside other efforts to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles in India.
According to junior Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha:
“One of the applications for drones that has come forward is an application to transport organs using drones, so that is something that we have discussed with a large hospital company that is transporting organs right now and has found it to be very difficult to transport organs, given how crowded Indian streets are.”
Currently, officials sometimes set apart “green corridors” through crowded traffic for urgent organ transit.
“You do it with drones, then it just goes in the sky, and nobody’s impacted. Organ transport happens very efficiently and in a very safe way,” said Sinha.
The plan would depend on private sector companies. One possible trial for drones in Chennai would be run by Apollo Hospitals, a private chain.
“Our job is to provide the regulatory framework within which it can be done safely and securely, and that’s what we are providing,” he said.
Drone use became legal in India earlier this month – users will now be able to register their drones with the aviation ministry. A new set of regulations set to go into effect in January will help leverage drones to fuel economic growth.
“Today, we have taken the first step towards our vision of seeing millions of drones fly in India. Drones are a frontier technology which has the potential to leapfrog India’s economic growth,” said Sinha.
Drones have already been used to transport blood samples at Johns Hopkins University in the US, and for emergency medical equipment at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. In Mississippi, William Carey University researchers are testing whether drones could reach people in disasters areas more quickly than ambulances.
Drones can also offer dramatically lower costs than other forms of air transportation.
UNICEF also used drones to bring vaccines across mountainous terrain in Vanuatu, to reach unvaccinated populations.
The UN children organization’s executive director, Henrietta H. Fore, said in a statement:
“Today’s small flight by drone is a big leap for global health. With the world still struggling to immunize the hardest to reach children, drone technologies can be a game changer for bridging that last mile to reach every child.”