The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation released a new set of comprehensive drone laws and regulations on 26 August 2021. These rules will be applicable to all Category System (UAS) registered in India. Each and every company or individual owning, possessing or involved in exporting, importing, manufacturing, trading, leasing, transferring, operations or maintenance of drones in India is bound to abide to all the rules and regulations newly aligned by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. These rules are expected to bring about major transformations in the Drone industry in the coming years.
But how auspicious was the year 2020-21 for the Drones Industry in the country? Lets have a look.
With a fast-growing sector for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) , India is estimated to develop a multibillion-dollar industry of drones in the next decade.
According to a January 2020 PwC report, India is said to be the fastest growing drone market in the world and is predicted to mushroom to $885 million by 2021. It is also expected to reach $1,810 million by FY 2026, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.61 percent.
Even according to a recent research by the global market intelligence and advisory firm BIS, the Indian drone market is expected to reach $1.21 billion by the end of 2021.
“2022 will be the year in which the hockey-stick upcurve in large scale usage of drones in India will happen, upon the strong foundation of the Drones Rules 2021, the UTM policy (a draft policy for UAV Traffic Management (UTM) Ecosystem) and more” - Rajan Luthra
In an interview with The Print, Rajan Luthra, chair of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Committee on Drones, said that 2022 will be the year that the country will witness widespread usage of drones.
In addition to imports, India has also developed its own UAVs through public sector units and private companies. Some of these listed include Rustom, Nishant, Panchi and Netra, while micro and mini UAVs are registered as Black Kite, Golden Hawk, Pushpak, Imperial Eagle and Sly Bird.
There are more than 150 drone start-ups blooming in India, indicating the wide scope of evolution of the drone and UAV ecosystem, going forward.
In January, IdeaForge received one of the largest small drone contracts worth $20 million for SWITCH 1.0 UAVs, which will be inducted in the Indian armed forces. These UAVs are capable of long duration operations, long endurance surveillance and security inspection.
From surveillance to spreading awareness, disaster management to aiding search efforts, the Central Government has increasingly started deploying Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) a.k.a. drones to facilitate better governance.
During the peak of the pandemic, the drones have played a crucial role in controlling the situation by patrolling and making announcements.
In Mumbai, 40 drone pilots were employed to monitor various areas. Flying from rooftops, they covered the areas within 2km radius, taking snapshots of crowded areas and sending them ahead to the main dashboard, essentially enhancing the efficiency of the law enforcement authorities.
“ This year 2020 has shown how drones can be used for country’s benefits. Covid has been the most important factor for the drone industry, everyone showed support to our law enforcement agencies.” - Smit Shah (Director of Partnerships, DFI)
The social distancing between citizens in Asia’s biggest vegetable market- Azad Mandi, New Delhi was monitored by drones. Tamil Nadu became the first Indian state to use drones for a sanitization campaign by deploying 300-500 drones to sanitise roads, metros and hospitals across the state.
Recently, with the launch of Delta 400, a high endurance drone developed by IG Drones, the UAVs are now successfully being used for delivering COVID 19 vaccine in inaccessible terrains of North-east, Arunachal Pradesh and places in lack of proper healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical support.
Besides that, the drones have also played a befitting role in disaster response by battling against the locust swarms, saving lives during the Uttarakhand glacial breach, flood in Assam, Maharashtra, Kerala and the list is endless.
According to a release by Agricultural Ministry, “India is the first country to control locust by using drones after finalising the protocols and getting statuatory approvals. Major operations are concentrated in Rajasthan where maximum resources are committed.”
Over the past few years, the mini-copters have become central to the functions of various industries and business. Breaking the rigid traditional barriers in industries, which earlier seemed impenetrable, drones are now proving to be extremely beneficial in places, where humans are unable to reach or perform an action timely, in an efficient manner.
According to a report by PwC, the Andhra Pradesh Government started using drones to monitor the developmental activities in the capital city region. As a pilot project in Karnataka, the UAVs are noe being used by the Government for property tax estimation and base map planning of its cities. Even in Chandigarh, their Government has deployed drones for capturing aerial images of the UT.
Drones have multiple uses across several sectors in India.
And now, with the launch of new liberalized set of drone rules that allows relaxation on certain terms such as - no requirement of security clearance before registration or issuance of licence, reduction of operational fees to nominal levels, development of drone corridors etc. - the drone industry is sure to take a giant leap in the upcoming years.
Read our article on The Drone Laws 2021