The new drone policy categorizes it into five categories – weight starting from 250 gram to over 150 kilogram. Among the rules prescribed, anything over 200 feet have been categorised as no-drone zone.
Companies such as Amazon and Flipkart will soon be able to use drones to deliver packages in India, as the aviation ministry on Wednesday unveiled a proposed policy to allow commercial use of these unmanned aerial vehicles.
The draft policy classifies 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. Among other things, it also proposes restricting operations of UAVs to within the sight of the operator and only during the day time. 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.
“These rules allow companies to deliver goods at doorstep provided they follow the rules,” aviation secretary RN Choubey said at a press conference. The aviation ministers — Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Jayant Sinha — want to allow everyone to use drones, he added. India published the draft rules a week after the Trump administration in the US said it wanted to free up new commercial uses for UAVs. These include allowing operators to set UAVs over crowds, at night and out of sight of operators.
Commercial use of drones has so far been limited mostly to video and photography, but according to experts these can be utilised for many other applications as well, from delivering packages to emergency services, environment monitoring and providing wireless Internet in remote areas. American ecommerce giant Amazon has already designed a system, Prime Air, using drones to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of placing an order. It sees great potential for the application in India and has talked about plans to introduce it here.
Google and other tech giants are also working on drone technologies to expand its utility.
“Not having a regulation was amounting to a total ban. So, we needed to have a policy,” aviation minister Raju said. “Probably, within a month, we will get a lot of suggestion and the final policy should reflect all of it.”
Minister of state Sinha said: “With this policy, we opened the door for experimentation and innovation in India.”
According to the draft, drones in nano category — weighing up to 250 grams — and those operated by government agencies would not require any permit.