Friday, May 10, 2019

Can Drone Policy 2.0 Change The Fortunes of India’s Drone Startups?

When the Indian Premier League talks about drones, you know they have entered the mainstream. Despite the increasing popularity of drones used for films, live sports and videos, there is a lot of room for growth and the dearth of drone applications in India is a worrying sign for anyone who has roots in this industry. 
One of the primary reasons for this lack of innovation and groundbreaking work in drones in India is the lack of government support. For example, in October 2014, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India imposed a blanket ban on drones after flags were raised by the Mumbai police over a single instance of drones for deliveries. Mumbai-based Francesco’s Pizzeria used a four-rotor drone to deliver food over a short distance in the city, but that attracted the attention of law enforcement, and the significant buzz for the pizza outlet also resulted in the government scrutinising the use of drones in India.
Around the same time, several drone startups had begun operating in the Indian market as well, looking forward to the opportunity it offered. However, the status of their work was murky as the government had not given legal clearance to many of these startups. All that changed last year, when the government released the regulatory Drone Policy 1.0, which came into effect in December 2018.
The drone policy is primarily meant to facilitate the commercial usage of drones, lay down the operational rules for drones, and to provide checks and balances for companies involved in drone applications. It should have been just what the industry wanted. But it lacked the depth that startups needed to scale up their drone operations, given the massive opportunity.
10/05/19 Ankan Das/Inc42
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