What is Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights of drones?

The Ministry of Aviation (Government of India) recently allowed twenty entities to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BLVOS) flights of drones.

What is Beyond Visual Line of Sight?

It is the distances where the drones and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) operate outside the normal visible range. It is the second stage in the testing of drones. In the first phase of testing, the drones are operated within the visual line of sight.

What is the plan?

If two stages of testing is complete, the permitted entities will seek permission for further clearance to explore the possibility of vaccine delivery using drones.

Recent Developments

  • Telangana Government recently got permission to use drones to deliver vaccines.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research and IIT Kanpur were recently permitted by GoI to study COVID-19 vaccine delivery using drones.

About BLVOS

  • BVLOS is cost effective and has numerous applications.
  • It allows drones to collect more data in fewer deployments.
  • The cost of deploying a drone is less than the traditional methods such a manned helicopters and airplanes.
  • The BLVOS drones are controlled by data provided by on-board instruments. Here, the information is transmitted to the operator through telemetry link. The information includes altitude, speed, position and direction of flight.

Delivering COVID-19 vaccine through drones

The Indian Armed Forces have been using drone to deliver payloads since 2000. The major challenge in transporting COVID-19 vaccines through drones is maintaining low temperature during the transportation of vaccines.

Way Forward

India has the potential to use up to five UAVs or drones per district. There are 718 districts in India and thus 3,600 drones can be deployed to distribute the vaccines.

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