Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been used for defense purposes for decades. Their use for commercial and recreational purposes is gaining tremendous momentum, both in India and globally. Goldman Sachs sees the global drone market balloon to US $100 billion by 2020.
There are various ancillary developments like low-energy sensors and longer life batteries that are helping the civilian drone market grow. Early adaption of drones occurred in the photography space, where cameras were mounted for aerial photography during weddings, sporting events and for commercial survey of real estate.
With advancement in sensor, entrepreneurs started to create meaningful drone solutions that are reliable, safe and efficient and helped solve manpower-centric problems. As more sensors are developed, drones will make use of them along with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect immense amounts of data, feeding it into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) data models, allowing for real-time, life and mission critical operations.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems in Gujarat have collaborated with companies like CISCO and Amazon and are at the forefront of problem-solving using drones. Some of their incubated companies have developed solutions in the areas of volumetric analysis for mine operators, using advanced imaging sensors and high-resolution cameras, detection of under-performing or non-performing solar panels for solar farm operator, using heat sensors and resulting heat map patters, spray coverage of insecticides and pesticides on a farm for farmers using luminous additives and emergency medical services for metro/smart cities using GPS, high-resolution imaging and 2-way communications.
It is extremely important for Government (local, state and central) to recognize the tremendous potential of drones and their subsequent safe use and operation in their respective jurisdictions. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has floated several draft policies but does not yet have a comprehensive regulatory framework allowing safe flight of drones, keeping in mind the safety of people, aircraft and property.
Various aviation regulatory agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in US and Transport Canada in Canada have defined policies and guidelines for civilian and recreational operations of drones. These polices require registration and allow use of drones below 400 feet of altitude in US and below 90 meters of altitude in Canada. These policies also restrict the operation of drones in sensitive and public areas and requires a “line of sight” flight, whereby the drone should always be visible to the operator and under their positive control. Exceptions are granted for specific use like autonomous operation, flight in restricted areas and “out of sight” operations.
Globally, more needs to be done in the areas of defining victor ways for drones “highways in the sky” and “geo-fencing” for safer operations and “do not fly lists” to enforce privacy.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house