In a span of two years, we can expect drones to take off in every potential industry in India. From farming to photography, there will be innumerable professions driven by drone technology for the first time in the country. This will be made possible through the robust drone policies which are newly introduced and are still in development.

The Future of Drones in India

With the growing drone market, there are both pros and cons to it. While drones may replace many existing manual jobs, in return it will provide many job opportunities as well. As companies gradually start equipping drones, the need for drone operators, pilots and software engineers will increase exponentially. Many people like to fly drones as a hobby while wedding photographers and videographers will get an upper hand due to drones and they are likely to thrive. A FICCI and EY report noted that the Indian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) market will touch $885.7 million by 2021 when the global market size will be $21.47 billion. As mentioned, a lot of drone-specific jobs will be created in the coming future. Drones need to be manufactured, serviced, repaired and operated. Thus paving way for both highly skilled and unskilled employment opportunity. There is a growing demand for skills that need to build algorithms to spot patterns in photographs, intelligent routing and collision avoidance systems. The usage of drones is limitless. Apart from wedding photography, which is an immensely popular trend in India, drones are predicted to positively affect the agriculture, real estate, mining and the logistics sector. As per the DGCA guidelines, an individual must be at least 16 years of age to apply for a drone pilot’s license. This also means that the youth of the country can actively engage in drone technology from a young age and even build a flourishing career in it.

Drone Policy 2.0

The Drone Policy 1.0 focussed mainly on the primary regulations for everyday drone users but the second variant of this policy aims at flying drones beyond visual line of sight. The Indian government has just announced the Drone Policy 2.0 and only a draft of it has been released. The official policy is set to release later on. The draft note talks about rules and regulations that will bind operations of drones in public spaces, especially on a commercial scale. The draft also states that the new policy would either be released as an amendment to the predecessor or as an entirely new set of regulations.

Listed below are the some of the highlights from the draft of Drone Policy 2.0:

1. Altitude and functionality:

Unlike Drone Policy 1.0, the draft states that UAVs can be flown beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Drones can be flown above the stipulated 400 feet altitude limit for commercial purposes. Food and other product delivery through drones will also be made legal.

2. Proposes development of drone related infrastructure:

Just like airports, ‘Droneports’ would be sanctioned to facilitate take-off and landing of drones. Drone corridors and UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems would be put in place to manage drone induced traffic in the air.

3. Establishment of a Drone Directorate:

The draft recommends the establishment of a separate Drone Directorate within the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as the needs of the nascent drone industry may differ from the civilian drone industry.

4. Recognition of DigitalSky Service Providers (DSP):

The draft introduces third-party bodies into the Digital Sky network known as DSPs. These bodies would be public or private agencies registered in India, to provide enabling services to the UAS operators, DigitalSky Platform, relevant law enforcement authorities and/or any other stakeholder. One of the jobs of the DSPs could be of providing UTM services.

5. 100% FDI Permits:

Under Drone Policy 2.0, 100% FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)  has been proposed whereas Drone Policy 1.0 has no mention of FDI. This can result in the growth of the drone industry in India faster than ever.

Drone Policy 2.0 would bring tremendous changes in the way India sees and uses drones. Delivery of goods through drones, which has started to take shape in recent years, would also become active in India. Automation of drone technologies, guided by artificial intelligence would get a major rise. This new form of policy is expected to boost almost every core industry with the commercial application and usage of drones. Another fascinating recommendation in the draft of the policy is that it would approve drones to carry delicate items such as organs for transplant, blood, life-saving drugs, etc in emergency scenarios. This could not only help save time and money but also save hundreds of lives.

The future of drones in India is brighter than it was ever before and estimating from the rapid change and legalization, it wouldn’t be unusual if a country of 1.3 billion people becomes a leading pioneer of a drone revolution.