Delivery via drone can be a reality now: Govt drafts drone policy for commercial usage

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Soon the day might come when you are getting your ordered items from e-commerce companies like Flipkart, Amazon, and others as India is set to launch its first drone policy. As per the aviation ministry, the policy will likely be launched by December and will also include the usage of drones for commercial purposes.

Following the announcement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will place the draft rules on its website this week and seek comments from the public, reported ET.

The ministry had first issued guidelines for drones last year but they have not been implemented yet.

Under the proposed rules, companies such as Amazon and Flipkart will soon be able to use drones to deliver packages in India. US and China have already been experimenting with delivery through drones.

Also Read: Amazon files patent to deploy exclusive drones in India

“The general interest was always there. Not having regulation was amounting to a total ban. That did not make sense,” aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said at a press conference on Wednesday, “It can also be very useful in humanitarian causes like for delivery of blood.”

Drone policy – The rules

  • The proposed drone policy, prepared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation after long-drawn consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs, has classified drones into five segments on the basis of weight — from 250 grams to over 150 kilograms — and for commercial use, most of these will have to be registered with the aviation regulator.
  • Nano drones or those that weigh less than 250g and are capable of flying not more than 50 feet from the ground level will not need any permission.
  • Drones above that weight category and up to 2kg and can fly no higher than 200ft will need police permission. The ones weighing more than 2kg will need to apply for permissions, including one from the police, a license, and a flight plan.
  • There will be a restriction on flying drones in sensitive areas including around India Gate, international borders, within 500m from strategic locations, from mobile platforms such as car, ship or aircraft, over eco-sensitive zones like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Government agencies will be free to use drones according to their own guidelines and will not be part of this framework.

Among other things, it also proposes restricting operations of UAVs within the sight of the operator and only during the daytime. The draft will be put up for consultation for a month, and the final rules are likely to be out by the end of December.

Also Read: China’s JD goes step ahead of Amazon, works on drones delivery of heavy cargo

In India, e-commerce delivery companies pay about Rs15 to the delivery boys for every delivery, creating thousands of jobs in the process. According to latest estimates, there are 50,000 deliveries made by e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart Dominos in Delhi alone every day. This move might negatively affect the employment of delivery partners appointed by logistics partners.

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