Indian Civil Aviation branch took a huge leap last year when it announced to lift the ban off of flying drones. In accordance with this, any drone activity for commercial or personal reasons won’t be a matter of concern by the authorities from December 2018.
These drones also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were initially illegal to fly, now have a set of rules which it has to follow in order to buzz off in the sky. Indian drone policy requires the pilots to provide a pilot license along with an operator permit. And this is not just about it. They also have to show a definitive flight plan and finally await a ‘yes’ from the NPNT (no permission no takeoff). DGCA also announced the online platform called Digital Sky to keep in check and regulate all drone activity in the micro (above 250g and flying over an altitude of 50 feet) and more.
On top of such strict policies, a white paper on drone policies 2.0 was put forward by Jayant Sinha, minister for civil aviation. This development was an initiative keeping in mind the various uses drones could be put to. One of these was the delivery of goods beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). An endearing endeavor indeed. But only in virtual reality as of now because people are anticipating as to when will these manhandled flying objects actually perform something, nonetheless deliver food alone.
This drone policy 2.0 has taken it up a notch and is expected a management system that will look into drone controls and actually have thorough access to them and bring them down in case there is a detection of violation for any policy. A separate drone Directorate will also be set up as a part of this policy, to make drone usage guidelines to abide by. To this Gokul Kumaravelu, Marketing Lead at Skylark Drones says, “the nature of what the government has asked is extremely unique. So it’s not just asking if you have a drone that can fly beyond the visual line of sight. They also need to integrate it with an existing sort of air space management system and understand the other safety cases around it. You also need a bunch of things like domain expertise in BVLOS operations. And finally you need to bring out the business use case of the drone applications.”
The reason being the tough to pass test that these potential drone using companies like Swiggy, Zomato, Tata Advanced Systems, Honeywell, Zipline, Dunzo and Redwing had to go through. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular in May with the intent of inviting many companies to participate in sandboxes for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). Out of 34 applications it received, 27 were discarded due to in-comprehensiveness and inaccuracy. The above mentioned 7 companies were chosen for the same and were asked to submit additional information regarding technology to pitch in their BVLOS application.
The next round for these 7 companies will be even tougher and time consuming. As for the next 6 months, there will be numerous rounds of consultation and other kinds of experiments. With such a time consuming task, one cannot expect drones to hover over and deliver food goods or anything for the matter of fact until next year.
To this Karan Kamdar, CEO of 1 Martian Way Corporation, a Mumbai based start-up which infuses drones and robots with AI says , “After BVLOS permissions are granted to the 7 companies, they will most likely spend another few months working out the formal BVLOS circular for the rest of the companies. So I don’t think it would be until the end of next year that we would have a formal specification of something that is drone policy 2.0,”.
News Source – livemint