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Can India emerge at the forefront of drone revolution?


- Mahashreveta Choudhary | Geospacial World

India is all set for the drone revolution and the present scenario illustrates the picture very clearly. Last year, the country came up with its drone policy 1.0 and is soon coming up with 2.0 to make the drone operations easier. A few days back, the government of Andhra Pradesh, a southern Indian state, announced at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 that it will start testing the policy frameworks developed in the newly released ‘Advanced Drone Operators Toolkit’ to enable state-wide drone delivery operations.


With this announcement, Andhra Pradesh will become the first Indian state to take such an advanced step pertaining to drone technology. The move exudes optimism to leverage the insights from the toolkit to implement a drone delivery program that will bring key medical supplies to communities across the State.


Addressing the World Economic Forum at Davos, Lokesh Nara, the state’s Minister for Information Technology and Rural Development said, “Andhra Pradesh is proud to be the first government partner to implement the Advanced Drone Operations Toolkit. We look forward to leveraging the insights from the toolkit to implement a drone delivery program that will bring key medical supplies to communities across our state”


The step by Andhra Government could prove to be a great step for medicine delivery in remote areas. Lifesaving medicine can be delivered to people in need. Items like antidotes for venom can be sent to individuals stuck in hard to reach places. App-based healthcare can be provided to trekkers, tribals or people generally residing or venturing out in the wild wherein precise self-administered injections, first aid kits, meds etc. can be provided.


New Developments, New Opportunities

The Andhra Pradesh Government is looking to use drones in the medical sector for medical-based delivery. This will be introduced post implementation of Drone Regulation 2.0 in India, in which policy implementation for use of drones in logistics will be discussed. Saksham Bhutani, Chief Business Officer of Indshine says that “Drone companies will directly enjoy the benefit if this will be in place. Market and scope in Drone Utilities Traffic Management (UTM), Drone Risk Management and Drone Ports will increase steeply”.


“Taking examples from the real-world success of drone delivery projects in Africa and Europe, Andhra Pradesh too is planning to come up with the policy framework. It will not just take the development of state ahead but will also bring in new drone revolution in the country. It will set an example to other states as well to take the technology seriously to speed up the development. Like for example Maharashtra, which can use drone technology in agriculture for monitoring drought-affected areas and can save huge lose and lives” said Gokul Kumaravelu who is Lead Marketing at Skylark Drones.


The step will not just help the country in technological advancement but will also open new avenues for drone companies in India. On the technological front, this step by the Andhra government will set up proof concept to test how the technology can be used for medical supplies. It will also create new job opportunities in the state adds Gokul.


READ: Check out steps for drone mapping


From a National Perspective NPNT (No Permission, No Take off) compliance and accounting for every drone in the Andhra Pradesh ecosystem is critical prior to implementation of Drone Delivery. Further creation of drone ports, corridors for delivery drone operations along with drone ATC are essential infrastructure for drone delivery operations especially in the urban context and thus Sai Pattabiram, Founder and CEO of SSAI and Zuppa also prophesies that the Andhra Government will test drone delivery on a proof of concept basis. He believes that the regulation is a positive step in the right direction but the future growth of the industry will happen only after implementation gets underway.


Abhyudaya Saxena who is a Solutions Manager, GIS and Remote Sensing at GarudaUAV Soft Solutions also anticipates that this announcement as a great opportunity for drone companies in India. Sexena says “There is work for everyone and anyone who is interested. This has opened up vast avenues for research, business, social causes, law enforcement, disaster management and many more”. He adds that with this policy framework, new companies can emerge as business will expand. This will create good opportunities for businesses to tap into the technology and make the best use of it.


Drone manufacturing companies will have a task for making drones for each application. Modular drones which can be used to mount a variety of payloads depending on the application will make a difference. The possibilities are endless. There will be challenges in every field but they can be overcome with good planning and smart systems. Many systems already exist in terms of automation and AI, others will have to be developed adds Saxena.


Explaining more on the framework, Ajay Babushekhar, senior manager of Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board, says “The basic idea of this is to regulate drone-related activities and to create awareness about the extensive uses of drones. The state is also trying to come up with a state-owned drone policy in consultation with DGCA”.


Indeed, this is an excellent initiative by the government of Andhra Pradesh which will also create job opportunity and encourage drone companies to come up with new innovations. The state is also coming up with the center of drone excellence to build capacities in the state.

Tejas Kadam, Founder and CEO of Aerial Photo India rely on the fact that it is a great initiative that requires advanced technology which will fire up drone industry in India to come up with new innovations.


For sure, Indian companies will have to buckle up and come up with more innovations. Service providers will have to ensure that no field is left untouched. UTM systems like DGCAs Digi sky will have to be incorporated so that airspace traffic is managed automatically and for companies working in software (AI, Machine learning), this industry is an open field. For safer flight more Research and development will be required to automate more processes and make flights safer.


What is Advanced Drone Operators Toolkit

The Advanced Drone Operators Toolkit is a user-manual for governments wanting to scale drone delivery. It was released at the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos. It is an open source resource collection of lessons learned in collaboration with 10 civil aviation authorities from five continents, 8 international government organizations and 23 private companies. It was developed through a comparative analysis of real projects that share the lessons learned by governments and private players alike to enable the continued evolution of this new technological innovation. The intent of this toolkit is to help empower governments who are in the quest to bring the benefits of drones to tackle challenges that are in way of their development.


This policy toolkit has been developed in collaboration with the Drone Innovators Network (DIN), a community of leading civil aviation authorities and ministries, supported by industry leaders that shares best practices to accelerate policy innovation around drones. Brought together by the Drones and Tomorrow’s Airspace team at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this community was launched in Zurich, Switzerland, in June 2018. The toolkit draws on DIN members’ pilot projects that have taken place across the globe, leveraging the lessons shared in Zurich. It also includes lessons discussed at the Lake Victoria Challenge event in Mwanza, Tanzania, co-hosted with the World Bank that brought together regulators and pan-African aviation organizations to discuss drone use in Africa.


Original article at Geospacial World, here.


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