Delivery drones have been proposed for all sorts of purposes – pizza, soccer shoes and prescription drugs. But a new UAV project in India may literally save lives by speedily delivering vital organs for transplant.
According to the Times of India, the nation’s National Programme for Micro Air Vehicles is working on pilot project in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) that would deploy drones to deliver organs such as hearts, kidneys and kidneys in far less time than traditional ground vehicles.
And when it comes to organ transport, time is of the essence – a heart must be prepped for transplant within 10 hours after harvesting, a kidney in 24 hours and 12-15 hours for a liver.
“The main focus will be on transporting hearts as other organs can be preserved for longer after harvesting,” Kota Harinarayan told the Times. The plan calls for insulating the delivery drones to ensure the organ stays within specified temperatures.
The creator of India’s indigenous fighter Light Combat Aircraft, Harinarayan says once the project specs meet the approval of engineers and doctors, the drones will launch pending government approval and funding. He adds that using drones may cut transport times by half.
Currently, India deploys a concept known as a green corridor for organ transplant delivery– police and medical officials coordinate to create a special road lane free of traffic while also keeping all signal lights green. Although organ transport vehicles may also receive police escort – the process can still take too long due to the many congested streets across Indian cities.
Harinarayan says the current drone prototypes can transport up to half a pound of payload – plenty for a vital organ. His team’s next challenge will be to fly drones capable of traveling around 60 miles.
“For this project, we are looking at a vehicle of the regular UAV size and not the micro size,” said K Ramachandra, a project collaborator with the National Design and Research Forum
Since drone models the project plans to deploy can fly as high as 500 feet, Ramachandra says the project would not violate India’s traditional no-fly zones.