Drones have been invented many decades ago. In fact, a preliminary drone was used even during the first world war. Since then drones have been used mostly for defence purposes.
However, mainly two significant technology developments have broadened their ambit of applications.
- With advancements in radio communications drones became more agile, efficient, and easy to fly.
- With mobile phones being widely used, cameras and other small electronic equipment have become cheaper and more advanced.
Drones equipped with these additional capabilities can have very wide personal and commercial applications.
India’s vision to become a Drone Leader by 2030
India has been very fast in applying Drone technologies in many sectors like agriculture, logistics, mining, infrastructure, media and entertainment, etc. With only a few nations ahead, our country is keen on becoming a world leader by 2030.
On the manufacturing front, India plans to invest INR 5000 crore and create 10,000 jobs. On the services front, India anticipates a Rs 30,000-crore industry.
In line with the country’s vision on Drones, the government of India eased several regulations and stopped the import of drones. We can however import components to assemble or manufacture drones indigenously. The easing of rules has come at a point when a lot of drone-related startups were keen on experimenting with the application of drones.
Liberalized Drone Rules for wide and fast adoption
The Minister of Civil Aviation on 25th August 2021 announced Drone Amendment Rules 2022 further liberalizing drone rules.
- As per the new Drone Rules, no license or permission is required to fly nano drones (Drones weighing less than 250 gms) in green areas, i.e. areas beyond a 12 km radius from the airport.
- A remote-pilot license is not required to fly a nano drone or a micro drone for non-commercial purposes.
- Each unmanned aircraft system should be registered on the digital sky platform. Upon registration, it would obtain a unique identification number.
- Anyone above 18 years and below 65 years of age and with a 10th class qualification can receive a Drone Pilot Training certificate after completing the required training at any DGCA-approved training center.
The support from the Indian Government
- Through the productivity-linked (PLI) scheme, the government has provided incentives for drone manufacturers in India to make India self-reliant in the drone sector.
- It has relaxed the drone rules and has been adopting drones in various government missions. It has allocated a huge budget to promote the usage of drones.
- As per Svamitva scheme, the government is using drones to map and survey Abadi lands in villages. It helps in establishing clear ownership of inhabited lands in rural areas.
During the recent Republic Day Celebrations, a start-up incubated at IIT put up a great show with about 1000 drones. By organising Bharat Drone Mahotsav at Pragati Maidan in Delhi, the government once again reiterated its support for the Drone sector.
It has been directing several ministries to adopt drones in their departments. For example, the police would find drones quite helpful in aerial surveillance. The National Health Mission used drones to deliver essentials and medicines to tribal areas. In 2021, it granted drone usage to 10 government organisations.
Evolving Drone industry in India
Drones are not just of one kind and size. From a small-sized nano drone to an unmanned aircraft with tons of payload, drones are of various sizes. The application of drones also varies vastly. Drones can be used to deliver goods, survey land areas, shoot aerial videos, etc.
Each of these applications is further explored as several use cases by many industries. The first application mentioned, delivering goods, can imply providing vaccines and medicines during the pandemic, distributing essentials to flood-affected areas, dispersing seeds to grow more trees, etc.
Swiggy, a food delivery app, pilot-tested drones to deliver food parcels. Telangana was the first state to use drones to deliver medicines.
The second application, surveying, has been put to use by various industries and the government as well. Drones are increasingly being used in surveillance, mining, etc. A drone equipped with AR capabilities can assess and track volumes of inventory and resources at mines and other warehouses.
Drones are now a common sight in many public and mass gatherings. They’ve been used during the lockdown to take aerial videos of cities.
Drones can be useful for any industry. With cell phones being used by everyone these days, can we say which industries use them the most? Almost every industry. Similarly, with a wide range of functionalities from basic to advanced, drones are useful for any industry, and in many occupations like farming, arts and entertainment, tourism, etc
How to Improve the Drone Training Ecosystem?
Currently, there are 23 training DGCA approved drone training institutes, distributed across many cities in India. Most of these training academies provide basic remote pilot training that can be completed in just 5 days. During the training, the drone pilots not only learn to fly drones but also to maintain drones, troubleshoot them and fix errors.
During the recent Bharat Drone Mahotsav, drones ranging from nano to the size of an abridged helicopter were displayed. Someone who flies a nano drone cannot fly a larger unmanned aerial vehicle as well. Moreover, flying a drone for agriculture purposes is vastly different from flying it for industrial purposes like mining. With many kinds of drones and their varied applications, the basic umbrella drone training is insufficient to create drone pilot experts.
With many kinds of drones and their wide usage in many sectors, it is essential to build a good skilling ecosystem to meet the fast-growing drone requirements. We should have many more fully functioning DGCA approved drone training institutes with skilled training personnel. More specialized training curriculums should be designed to train aspirants in more industry-specific skills and to fulfil requirements for more advanced drones. The cost of the training should further come down to make it more affordable for all sections of society.
Everyone in the drone ecosystem, the government, the aviation industry, industries using drones, the training institutes, and the drone manufacturers from startups to established ones, should work together to cater to each other’s needs and create a conducive and thriving drone ecosystem in the country.
The way forward…
Drones are growing both in number and in capabilities. In line with its vision of making India a self-reliant Drone manufacturer and a leader in drone technologies, the Government of India has been actively encouraging drone manufacturers, various departments, and industries to use drones for wide applications.
Also read: How DroneAcharya is building capacity through training solutions for the Drone Industry https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/how-droneacharya-is-building-capacity-through-training-solutions-for-the-drone-industry/
To make it possible, the drone skilling ecosystem should grow and produce trained drone experts who can fill the vast job opportunities the drone sector will create in the near future. Watch this space to learn more about drone skilling opportunities and drone pilot training institutes.