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Skye Air partners with Aster DM Healthcare for end-to-end deliveries

Skye Air is deploying a drone with a payload capacity of 5 kilos and a range of 30 kilometres on a single charge for the trials

Skye Air partners with Aster DM Healthcare for end-to-end deliveries
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Skye Air Mobility, the New Delhi-based drone delivery tech firm, announces a new partnership with Aster DM Healthcare for end-to-end delivery in Bengaluru.

"In this new partnership, we will make two sorts of deliveries: one is picking diagnostic samples from the Aster RV hospital and delivering them to the Aster laboratories and clinics; and second, picking up the medicines from the Aster pharmacy and delivering them to the Aster RV hospital. It is an end-to-end movement that not only expedites things because Bengaluru is one of the most congested cities, but also allows them (Aster) to get a better price by exporting or conducting the reverse trip with payloads," said Ankit Kumar, Founder and CEO, Skye Air Mobility.

Aster DM Healthcare began in the UAE and has now expanded across the MENA and Asia-Pacific regions, with facilities in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and India. In India and the Middle East, the healthcare organisation runs hospitals, diagnostic centres, medical centres, and pharmacies.

The drone company began trials on May 14, and as of May 16, they had completed 35 flights in 3 days, with the goal of completing 80 test flights in total in 4 days.

"During the trials, we identified landing and takeoff zones, among other things. Post the trial, we would want to develop a fixed infrastructure, which is the learning and adoption of zones with defined slots, where the drones move from A to B with less human interaction overall. So, for trials, there are many things being tested and explored to discover where the actual advantage may be obtained or where the genuine benefit is achieved," said Kumar.

Kumar went on to say that during the trials, they are not only analysing the drone deployment, payload capacity but they are also concentrating on saving time, money, and offering speedier service.

"The good news we saw in this trial is that we can save money while the drone is returning. In most circumstances, the drone returns empty; however, this time it is not returning empty, it will include medicines. As a result, as a drone service provider, we are able to obtain a lower cost and transfer that cost on to the end client," said Kumar.

(Video Credit: Skye Air Mobility LinkedIn)

"They (Aster) have been able to save time by more than 50% when compared to the conventional side, and when we go to more congested cities, the amount of time savings grows all together. So the time savings or time reduction that we have accomplished with Red Cliff and other companies that we work with is about 48 %, whereas in Bengaluru, we estimate that figure to be over 60%, a 12 % increase."

Skye Air is deploying a drone with a payload capacity of 5 kilos and a range of 30 kilometres on a single charge for the trials. The new collaboration will be an intra-city logistics, meaning it will operate within a 7-kilometre of JP Nagar in Bengaluru, where the Aster RV hospital is located, with an average payload of 3 to 4 kilos.

"Once we finish this trial, which may be in a month or two, we will look into arranging these routes and developing the infrastructure to begin commercial deliveries on a regular basis. And then we plan to sit with Aster and decide on expanding to other locations, that could be either Kerala, Tamil Nadu or Dubai," said Kumar.

Skye Air Mobility had certain challenges within the next 3 to 4 days of the testing. On the one hand, they are aiming for positive outcomes from the trials; on the other hand, they are focusing on the difficulties encountered to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

"The most challenging is radio communication. Drones experience interference while flying extremely close to radio towers and telecom towers, both of which are abundant in cities. As a result, navigating through those locations becomes one of the most difficult tasks. Every building has a telecom tower built on the roof, which creates impediments and causes communication failure with the drone. So, when we fly through one corridor, we see that we are automatically losing contact with the drone. When RTL (return-to-launch) is triggered for the drone to return, we adjust the path, optimise the flight plan, and change the flight plan. So all of this is part of pre-flight testing, which takes place one day before the actual flight," said Kumar.

To avoid ambiguity, the drone company keeps ATC and the Air Force informed of their flying locations and times even in green zones.

Swiggy, the online food delivery startup, recently unveiled the final list of companies with whom it will cooperate on its grocery delivery initiative, and Skye Air is one of them.

Zinal Dedhia

Zinal Dedhia

Zinal Dedhia, a post-graduate in journalism from Nottingham Trent University, UK, is the Principal Correspondent at STAT Media Group. Zinal enjoys covering the air cargo and aviation industry, and also has an interest in drones. She can be reached at zinal@statmediagroup.com


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