KATHMANDU, Mar 21: With ample cases where patients suffer and die in lack of timely health care services, a medical drone could hold key to improve access in remote Nepal. Mahavir Pun, chairman of Nepal Innovation Center, argues so.
The Center is developing two prototypes, an octocopter and a fixed-wing drone, each with ranges of 15 and 30 km respectively.
Connected to nearest hospitals and health posts as hubs, the drones, built by Nepali engineers, will help to connect rural communities and urban areas for better and timely health care services.
"The drones will be capable to carry medicines and collect body fluid samples with 3 kg of maximum load," Pun said.
With drones delivering medicines and food already in use in the West, Pun said," importing such drones will again increase our trade deficits. The reason we are developing our own is to reduce increasing imports, promote our engineers and our skills and have our one productions."
In addition, Pun shared that at a time where innovations and patents are being made registered, it was crucial for Nepal to follow suit." As long as innovations don't come under our purview, we cannot prosper in the world."
An octocopter drone costs around 1.1 million rupees if one is to buy. “However, we could build ours in just Rs. 200,000. The beauty is that that we could customize it,” Sunil Baniya, one of the engineers involved in building the drone said.
Baniya added that while they had successfully tested the octocopter in their lab at Kupandole, they were yet to conduct test flight. “We are deciding the date to conduct a test flight in the field, possibly Nangi of Myagdi or Ramte. This is likely to happen either on April 7 or 8," he said.
“Both octocopter and the fixed wing drones will be used to transport medicines. However, our ultimate aim is the fixed wing drone because it suits better in our context, is lighter, has longer range and consumes less battery,” Baniya said.