India might soon witness drones flying to deliver food or people commuting in urban air taxis, as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has invited expressions of interest (EOI) from consortia of experts for “conducting experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in India, leading to submission of Proof of Concept (PoC) for safe BVLOS operations”.
Joint Deputy General G Rajashekar issued a note which said that the scope of this operation shall include beyond visual line of sight RPA operation, unmanned aircraft system (UAS), traffic management system deployment, supplementary services for 3D maps, weather data, surveillance and telemetry data (an automated communications process by which measurements and other data are collected at remote or inaccessible points) of manned and unmanned aircraft. The note further adds, “experimental BVLOS operations followed by submission of PoC should be completed before DGCA issues any regulations for BVLOS operations”.
Zomato & Amazon to get deliveries done by drones
Drones are currently used for military operations, photography, surveying, monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster management, rescue operations etc. The economic and social potential of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has widely been untapped. With DGCA hinting to permit commercial usage of RPAs, companies like Zomato, Uber, Swiggy and all other delivery platforms seem extremely happy.
Zomato has already expressed its desire to be one of the first companies to get deliveries done by drones in India. It hopes to set-up its own drone-delivery platform right after it attains permission from the government. Zomato has also acquired Tech Eagle, a Lucknow based drone delivery eco-system. “Our first ‘delivery job’ currently is to design multi-rotor drones that can pick up a payload under 5 kg and set up drone delivery circuits for reducing the last mile delivery leg. We believe that robots powering the last mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us,” said Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato
Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos has in past expressed his company’s willingness to harness drones’ potential in making deliveries. In an interview with CBS in 2013, he said, “ We’re coming to the end of 2018, and drone deliveries are still limited to specific disaster management needs.”
Uber Elevate, US-based ride-sharing major’s aerial taxi arm has been considering India as one of the five countries to launch its services. By 2023, Uber aims to kickstart its commercial operations of “on-demand aviation” aerial taxis in Dallas, Los Angeles. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi met the aviation ministry last year. He hopes DGCA’s recent trial run will eventually pave way for commercial usage of RPAs beyond visual line of sight. “Passenger drones will be small vertical take-off and landing aircraft that can be used for urban mobility,” the Uber Elevate website says.
Also Read: Meet Sampriti From Kolkata, Who Invented World’s First Underwater Drone That’ll Map The Ocean