Drone start ups demand flexible regulations

Business City Tech

Digitization of permission will ease the permission process which otherwise involves a lot of paperwork

Bangalore, February 1, 2018: Drone companies have demanded for digitalization in the permission process to fly drones and an increase in areas of drone flying practice in the country.

Many Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) companies commonly known as drone companies opposed the draft regulation released by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in October 2017. The draft restricted the height and weight of drones as well as used a complicated procedure to seek permission from Air Traffic Control before flying.

Some of the drone companies have formed an association called ‘Drone Federation of India’ and are now recommending several changes in the regulation that is said to be imposed on them.

The draft doesn’t provide a digital platform to make the permitting process easier. “The draft lacked in terms of technicality such as increasing the number of drone practice areas and other regulation for categories of drones. There have been talks to make the permission process digital,” said the Vignesh Santhanam, Marketing and Business head at Quidich Innovation Labs which is a drone startup. The company is a member of the drone federation.

The draft says that each drone will require a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and geo-tagging which will share the GPS location of the drone to the authority monitoring the drone. “DGCA has indicated that they will make the UID number process more digitalized and paperless so that it won’t be time to consume for us. There is still no clarity, therefore we are coming up with suggestions for them to make it more flexible,” added Vignesh.

There was no tracking device earlier because of which people were flying their drones everywhere. Now, there are rules and regulations but still many people are flying these drones illegally. “Earlier, people used to fly remote-controlled aircrafts in Jakkur but we have stopped it now,” says Akshay,  a pilot at Jakkur airfield.

“Small Chinese model drones worth Rs. 2000-3000 is disrupting the Indian aircraft market as now every person flying small drones without any knowledge thinks he is a pilot” he added.

Quidich has worked for government projects like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to improvise the entire surveillant system. It also delivered drones to Rajasthan police for convoys and other surveillance activities. The association predicts government projects in the future where drones will be used for inspection and surveillance.

Drone associations have asked to loosen the norm of restricted areas for drone flying and have demanded an increase in the height at which drones will fly. Currently, the height is 200ft and has categories of drones and restrictions for each, adds Vignesh.

“The unmanned aircrafts (UA) shall not be flown in the entire airspace over the territory of Delhi (30km radius from Rashtrapati Bhavan) and areas falling within 50 km from the international borders. Also, UAs shall not be flown over other sensitive locations viz. nuclear stations, military facilities and strategic locations” says the draft proposed by the DGCA.

Geo-tagging will be a breach of privacy as it will reveal the real time location of the person. The restrictions should be there to prevent any wrongdoing, but the process of registration and permits for drone usage  should be quick so that drones can be put to a better use,  said Ashok, Computer Engineer working on projects to use drone for more good purposes.

“I worked on one project where drones were used to detect potholes which caused many deaths in the city. Such drones would autonomously fly over our city and detect potholes with computer vision and send the GPS to civic authority department. These are the constructive uses of drones. There should be a proper online portal which would  ease the permission taking process for such projects without making it  difficult and lengthy,” added Ashok

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