India is set to roll out a robotic surgical drone by 2019, according to industry sources.
The government, however, said it will be at least a year before the device is ready for commercial use, but it has assured industry it will follow a rigorous process to ensure safety and reliability.
The project has been spearheaded by the government’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and is part of the government plan to make India the ‘Robotic Nation’.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has also set up a panel to review the project.
“We will set up the panel and get the details in three months, we have decided,” a government official said, declining to give further details.
Meitys drone will be a hybrid drone that can operate autonomously, but can also carry a doctor or medical kit, he added.
The drone can operate in a wide range of scenarios, from small medical units to large surgical units.
A large-scale demonstration of the device will be held in 2019, the official said.
The ministry has also launched an Indiegogo campaign for the device, seeking Rs 5 lakh for its development.
The company is expected to launch a prototype in 2019.
The device, dubbed Surgical Robotics, is expected not only to cut costs, but also improve surgical performance, according the MeitY website.
It will be able to operate in the vacuum of space, and can also detect objects in the surgical environment.
The unmanned surgical drone will fly autonomously and carry a medical kit with a surgeon inside, with the patient in a remote location.
A sensor on the drone will record the level of oxygen flow and heartbeat, and the level and location of blood vessels.
The Surgical Robot will be built at the Indigogo campaign, but will also be used to perform routine operations, the government official added.
The first test flights will take place from September 2020, and deliveries will follow in 2020.