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Liberalized Drone Rules, 2021 to usher in growth of drone ecosystem: Industry

Industry however expects the government to further empower the drone ecosystemPremium
Industry however expects the government to further empower the drone ecosystem

  • Overall, the Drone ecosystem will also offer cost- effective solutions in fields of medicine delivery, agriculture, and emergency response, in India, which has large urban clusters, ultra-high population density and lacks fundamental infrastructure across a large portion of the country

New Delhi: The new liberalized Drone Rules 2021, which was notified by the government on Thursday, is expected usher in growth in the nascent drone ecosystem as the new rules will fast track plans of drone companies with the government having done away with a lot of red tape that essentially delayed project launches.

These new liberalized Drone Rules, 2021, are set to transform core sectors of the economy including logistics, agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement and will make India a global hub for drones by 2030, Rattan India Enterprises Ltd, which recently made a strategic investment in US-based urban drone logistics platform Matternet, said in a statement.

"The liberalized Drone Rules, 2021 will pave the way to accelerate the commercial and industrial use of drones in India and usher in greater innovation in the sector," it added.

Overall, the Drone ecosystem will also offer cost- effective solutions in fields of medicine delivery, agriculture, and emergency response, in India, which has large urban clusters, ultra-high population density and lacks fundamental infrastructure across a large portion of the country.

From the corporate perspective, the notification of the new liberalized Drone Rules 2021 will push ahead technological advancements at drone technology companies (like of Zen Technologies that offer heavy lift logistics drones, DCM Shriram Industries, which recently signed an agreement with Turkish UAV manufacturer and drone maker Zyrone Dynamics) Rattan India Enterprises, food delivery applications like Zomato and Swiggy, private companies like Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, and Bayer Crop Science involved in drone trials, to name a few.

More start-ups are also expected to join the drone ecosystem as a result of the new policy.

"Additionally, research and development, and manufacturing industries are also expected to grow through investment in new drone-related technology, thereby enabling further growth in employment opportunities," said Avinash Khard, Associate Partner at DSK Legal, who handles aviation clients for the firm.

Industry however expects the government to further empower the drone ecosystem. As things stand, various state governments, government institutions, apart from players from the private sector are currently involved in drone trials.

"The drone delivery service will get a booster dose as we in the industry are now confident that the government will empower development in this space," said Swapnik Jakkampuddi, Co-Founder, Skye Air Mobility, a domestic Drone Delivery technology company with offices in Bengaluru and New Delhi.

"Though, certain nations like the USA, Australia, Japan, Ireland and Africa have already started to use drones for the benefit of the civilian population. However, with the release of the new rules India is poised to catch up...," Jakkampuddi added.

According to the Drone Rules 2021, the requirement for several key approvals have been abolished. Also, no pilot licence will be required to operate micro drones used for non-commercial use, nano drones and for R&D organizations using such drones. The number of forms has also been reduced from 25 to 5 and types of fee sharply reduced from 72 to 4.

However, the Digital sky platform, an initiative by the Ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) to provide a secure and scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off), designed to enable flight permissions digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations and traffic efficiently, may take a few more months to take off due to the complexities involved, a senior government official said, requesting anonymity.

The Digital Sky platform runs on an India map, which needs to be cleared by the intelligence agencies, since sensitive installations (nuclear facility, army camps, etc.) need to be marked or blurred so that no confidential information is lost.

"We are pleased to see the mention of "safety and security features like ‘No permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing and more". This new regulation will enable Indian skies to remain safe as the drones technology evolves and the sector grows. The significant reduction in number of authorizations required to operate drones will provide a major boost to ‘Dronepreneurs’ and foster innovation," said Ashish Saraf, Vice President and Country Director - India, Thales, which recently launched ScaleFlyt a portfolio of solutions enabling safe and secure drone operations and meeting the regulatory requirements.

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