Government to set up facilities to test drone parts as use cases soar | Mint

Government to set up facilities to test drone parts as use cases soar

As per the proposal, the NTH may charge up to  ₹2 lakh for every certification to encourage drone manufacturing in India. (Reuters )
As per the proposal, the NTH may charge up to 2 lakh for every certification to encourage drone manufacturing in India. (Reuters )

Summary

  • The labs will conduct various tests to study sturdiness, flying capacity, battery leakage, etc

New Delhi: The government plans to establish testing facilities for sub-parts of drones, as the use of these unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has been soaring across a range of commercial purposes including infrastructure, agriculture, entertainment, transportation, and geospatial mapping, two persons said.

The National Test House (NTH), an industrial testing laboratory that reports to the ministry of consumer affairs, has been assigned the task of establishing testing facilities for the sub-parts of drones. These sub-parts include the battery, camera, landing gear, propellers, motors, flight controller, and receiver, among others.

Currently, only a few private agencies are engaged in testing these sub-parts.

The first testing facility of this kind will be established in Ghaziabad. The process of equipment procurement is underway, and the testing lab is expected to be completely ready in the next 3-4 months, said D.V. Rajagopala Rao, a scientist who heads the science and technology cell at NTH.

Rao, who is one of the two persons cited above, said there will be 7-8 types of tests for the drone sub-parts, including electrical, mechanical, and software tests, to study the sturdiness, flying capacity, battery leakage, flight control, and damage upon crash-landing.

Queries sent to the consumer affairs ministry remained unanswered till press time.

This facility is in addition to the type certification of drones, and NTH is creating a facility for testing drone parts to check compliance with applicable national/international standards.

The certification of drones by NTH will be quite cost-effective compared to private testing agencies, which charge a hefty fee for certification, the first person said.

As per the proposal, the NTH may charge up to 2 lakh for every certification to encourage drone manufacturing in India. NTH Ghaziabad has received interest from 12 drone manufacturers for type certification of their models, the first person said, wishing not to be identified.

Following the NTH certification, the directorate general of civil aviation will issue licences to drone makers, allowing them to manufacture an unlimited number of drones.

The National Test House provides quality services such as testing, calibration, and quality evaluation of engineering materials and finished products in various fields, including chemical, civil, mechanical, electrical, non-destructive testing, metallurgy, rubber, plastics, papers, and textile materials.

Since its inception in 1919, NTH has dedicated its scientific and quality assessment services to various nation-building projects, such as bridges, highways, airports, steel plants, refineries, power plants, and railway projects.

The industry has supported of the government’s plan to test parts of drones. Anoop Kumar Upadhyay, co-founder of IoTechWorld, a domestic agri-drone maker, said, “We appreciate the government’s initiative. It will help in the growth of the drone manufacturing sector. Better quality will allow Indian drone makers to compete in the global market."

“Drones are a new technology, and rules for component testing are being prepared. My request is to keep the industry in the loop prior to finalizing any new set of rules for better conformity," Upadhyay said.

The government has relaxed the norms for obtaining a remote pilot certificate, which is compulsory for operating a drone. As per the revised norms, anyone having a government-issued proof of identity and a government-issued proof of address, such as a voter ID, ration card, or driving license, can apply for a remote pilot certificate.

Earlier, a passport was a mandatory criterion that was becoming a hurdle for aspiring drone pilots, especially in the agricultural sector across rural India. The relaxation in the norm is to promote and facilitate drone operations across the country and make India a global drone hub by 2030.

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