Saturday, September 18, 2021

New drone rules greeted with cautious optimism

New rules have kicked in and brought cheer to drone users and companies offering compliance services.

Last month, the central government notified The Drone Rules of 2021, liberalising the ownership and use of drones or Unmanned Automated Vehicles (UAV) in India. They reduce entry barriers by a great deal.

Ruchika Agarwal, co-founder of business management consultancy, Mind Sync, explains the shift. “The number of registrations, licences and compliances have come down from 25 to five, and fees from 72 to four. The fee for a remote pilot licence is down from Rs 3,000 to Rs 100 for all categories of drones.”

As a result, her consultancy has received a dozen enquiries on drone-related compliance from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune lately. “These came mostly from photographers and food startups. One wants to explore the possibility of delivering lunch from home to office,” she shares. Ashwath Salunke can attest to the increase in interest. His company in Malleswaram,

Fly India, customises drones for college projects and also repairs the devices.

“We have received queries from hobbyists, commercial photographers, and businesses who want to fly drones over solar panels in remote areas or above windmills to detect breakdowns,” he says. Likewise, wedding photographer Abhiram Rajan has got calls from construction companies that wanted aerial shots of their sites.

Vlogger Nivedith G is glad he can finally capture a bird’s eye view of Chinnaswamy Stadium, Lalbagh, and Cubbon Park without running around for approvals. “The new policy lets you fly the drones in the green zone (airspace from the ground up till 400 ft high) freely,” he explains.

The previous rules were indeed “draconian” and curtailed creativity and tech innovation, says Ashwath. “After the drone attack in Jammu in July, many people hid their drones and profile photos featuring drones, afraid that the authorities might question them. Air force officials showed up at my office too, asking me what my business was about,” he recalls.

18/09/21 Barkha Kumari/Deccan Herald

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