22 Dec

Initially perceived as a toy, drones are now being utilized to their full potential across a broad spectrum. Since their commercial utilization entrance, they have helped humans simplify complex tasks and work in extreme conditions without enduring severe costs.

Looking back to 2014, the Government of India had imposed a strict ban on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. But fortunately, in October 2017, the ban was lifted, and the government started supporting drone-based services. The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) unveiled its first draft norms for the usage of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) that came into effect in December 2018. The announcement of this policy brought a massive wave of excitement to the drone market and industry stakeholders. It opened up the doors of success for several drone startups in the country.

The technologically advanced, well-equipped drones offer a plethora of services to all types of industries existing worldwide. There is nothing these mini copters can’t do, from surveying and monitoring the public to controlling traffic.

The rapid growth of drones is due to their widespread usage in railways, roadways, mining, infrastructure, engineering, security and surveillance, agricultural survey, power line monitoring, bridge and pipeline inspection, river mapping services, forest, and wildlife surveys.

Though skeptical initially, both the public and private domains have started welcoming the drones with open arms to increase work efficiency and reduce operational costs. According to a  FICCI and EY report, the Indian UAV market is expected to touch $885.7 million by 2021. The global UAV market size is approaching $21.47 billion. Furthermore, PWC India’s report further states that the drone space is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% during 2017-23.

Private security companies use drones stocked with HD image sensing cameras to keep track of people and vehicles. Much like CCTV cameras, companies use this technology to survey the workplace and ensure a safe working environment. Drones are swiftly becoming the key technology to ensure on-campus safety.

The Indian Forest Department, in the year 2018, used drones to monitor the 13 Crore plantation drive in the Indian city of Nagpur. UAVs help environmentalists study wildlife, monitor flora and fauna, and capture the impact of environmental factors on forest life. As the drones can be equipped with scientific scanning equipment, conservationists and researchers replace lower-resolution satellite imagery, slower terrestrial surveying equipment, and expensive staffed aircraft services by the drones. Critical areas for using drones in environmental studies and conservation include forestry, Plant Conservation, Animal Conservation, River level, flood assessments, marshlands and mangroves assessment, etc.

Recently in 2020, the drones assessed the entire situation in the flood-affected state of Odisha. A holistic and straightforward approach covered the various aspects regarding finding the intensity of the flood, the affected areas, and people stuck in a room or needing help. Large chunks of affected areas were being mapped with sophisticated drones, which proved effective in quantifying losses by using the generated 3D models. 

Drones have also found widespread use in the entertainment industry. It has evolved from being just a toy to a product capable of mass influencing. Drones are being used to get aerial footage for a particular scene while filming, supplanting helicopters’ use in the past, thereby contributing to lower costs.

The Indian government, during Asia’s premier air show, Aero India-2019, held a ‘Drone Olympic’ to let drone pilots show their potential of flying these miraculous copters. Influencers and creators actively use drones to capture engaging tourism videos of places they visit by aerial photography. Photos are captured from high altitudes using drones.

On March 12, 2021, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation released a new set of comprehensive drone laws and regulations applicable to all Category System (UAS) registered in India. 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 by all the rules and regulations newly aligned by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. 

Under this system, all drones will require a Formal Authorisation Certificate. The certificate will be issued by testing laboratories or organizations authorized to do so by the DGCA. 

The rules also prescribe penalties for any unauthorized import, buying, selling, and leasing of drones. Additionally, flying a drone by a person who is not a licensed remote pilot will also be regarded as a punishable offense. Thus, irrespective of the category, no drone shall be allowed to operate in India without a valid certificate of manufacture and airworthiness issued by the DGCA. 

Technological improvements have made drones what they are today: a marvel of engineering capable of performing tasks that are either nearly impossible or quite hazardous for humans to perform. Given the economic opportunities and the scope presented by drones in India, it is not surprising that the UAV sector is the fastest-growing commercial sector in India. However, the industry is not free from challenges—investments required for innovations and research regarding UAVs’ safe use in India. Hence, through intensive scientific research, drones can be technologically advanced to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. To become a one-stop solution to provide automated, secure, and economical solutions for leveraging technology across public and private sectors.

Read more about Unmanned Aircraft System Rules in 2021

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