Flying drones in India may be 'legal' — but that doesn’t mean you’re getting doorstep deliveries

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  • ‘Regulation 1.0’, India’s new rules and regulations for flying drones in the country, went live on December 1.
  • While flying drones may be legal, they can’t be used for e-commerce deliveries.
  • The Indian government’s agenda includes using drones for health care-related emergency situations such as when road congestion is a huge obstacle.
  • The country’s army chief has also stated that drones may be used to safeguard India’s borders against Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Announced in August earlier this year, the rules and regulations for legally flying drones in India went live on December 1. It's important to note that unlike the United States and other countries where flying drones is legal, the use of drones doesn't yet apply to e-commerce.

That means that you won't be getting pizza and online orders delivered to your doorstep.

So why did India choose to legalise drones? The move seems to, more or less, to placate the public where the 'recreational use' of drones is now feasible. But there are applications for agricultural data collection, insurance and infrastructure asset maintenance, among others, that could benefit the larger public.

Not-so-recreational

Currently, the implementation plans of drones seem to be in the realm of facilitating drones from transporting organs and other emergency medical supplies.

Drones will also be likely be used by the Indian military. The Indian army chief has stated that India may use 'armed drones' to protect the borders of Jammu and Kashmir, one of India's most volatile states. He added that this form of 'Hybrid Warfare' would also be used across the line-of-control (LoC) on the Pakistani side.

'Regulations 1.0' may make flying drones in India feasible, but it's not as easy as just buying a drone and setting it loose in the sky.

In fact, there are a bunch of regulatory formalities that come into play like applying for digital permits called the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), limitations on high drones can fly, and adhering to 'no-fly' zones -- that are all seen as reasonable regulation.

The government has also clarified that if there's a new application for how drones should be used, they would relax the rules on a case-by-case basis.

Simon Johnson, the Vice President of the Drone Association of Switzerland, said, "Regulations are absolutely necessary to ensure accountability. Integrating autonomous systems into society has its own challenges. And for India, I think the new set of regulations is a great step forward," at the Game of Drones conference in Bengaluru.

Melanie Guittet doesn't see the regulations as obstacles at all saying that, "I think it’s is an enabler, a catalyser for the growth of drone industry. Else, it’ll shrink to small scale without regulations."

The country still seems divided on whether the legalisation of drones is progressive or a security concern, but either way, the drones are here and it seems as though rather than be vary, it's time to responsible to ensure that they bring about positive change.


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