The world of technology speeds ahead, and while India is very much on the bandwagon with IT, e-commerce, space, and much more, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which monitors India’s drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) ecosystem has taken its time. Finally, the organization has released India’s drone policy called Drone Regulations 1.0, that dictates a process for creating an unmanned air traffic control system for running drones in the low-altitude airspace.
Inc42 quoted Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, from the announcement, “These regulations will enable the safe, commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018. It is intended to enable visual line-of-sight, daytime-only operations to a maximum altitude of 400 feet.”
So far, drones have restricted to only defence forces, law-enforcement agencies, and a few select government companies. They were not to be used for civil purposes. However, certain sectors, such as videography and photography, agriculture, wildlife surveillance, and monitoring of railway tracks, are making undeniable progress that can boost the ecosystem, creating ample opportunities for small and big players.
Not that the ban has discouraged Indians from using drones. Data shows that Indian skies sport about 40,000 civil drones. In fact, apparently Indians have spent INR 40 crore on drone shopping, and India tops the drone-importing nations as well.
While most stakeholders are thrilled about the drone policy being out, since it means business can finally start in India in the UAV space, they are also saying that this is just the beginning. From strictly government use to manufacturing drones for delivering goods and groceries at consumers’ doorstep, drones still have a long flight to make.
In whatever capacity possible, startups in India have launched UAV-related businesses. IIT-Kanpur startup, TechEagle Innovations partnered with a Lucknow-based food delivery firm to deliver tea in Lucknow. Another IIT Kanpur startup, Aurora Integrated System, uses drones for Geo-Information Systems, agriculture and disaster management.
Startups like Pune-based Aerial Photo India and Bengaluru-based Aarav Unmanned Systems use drones in the construction industry for surveys, project planning, land administration, mining and better visualization of an area. Agtech too relies on drone technology. Bengaluru-based Airwood help in the agtech sector with custom drones that gather field data for farmers. Also, Bengaluru’s Asteria Aerospace serves industries like oil and gas, mining, construction, and agriculture.
Mumbai-based Martian Way Corporation delivers custom-made drones for sale and services, and Chennai’s Aero360 and Mumbai’s Aerialair use drones for advance aerial imaging solution for commercial and residential purposes.
Now, a Kochi-based start-up IROV Technologies Pvt Ltd (EyeROV) has created commercial underwater drones, the first of which, they are giving to Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).