Our correspondent from India talks about opening new markets with new regulations. Do not miss the bonus showreel at the end for absolutely stunning aerial footage of India, by Quidich.
The following is a guest post by Rahat Kulshreshtha, founder and CEO of Quidich, India’s leading provider of aerial cinematography services. Rahat is also the treasurer of the Drone Federation of India.
The Indian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is said be worth close to $885.7 million by 2021, as per a report by FICCI and EY. This of course will generate several jobs across the drone services, manufacturing sector, as well as in ancillary sectors. It is ironic that a market growing at this pace was unregulated and effectively illegal in India up until recently.
As of 1stDecember, 2018, drones finally became lawful in India, with the Government launching the regulation for UAV’s. The Ministry’s vision for the regulation roadmapis to make it the best in class aiming to make it a global standard of regulation; internationally accepted and adopted.
The regulation 1.0 requires manufacturers to retrofit a firmware based system of NPNT (No Permission No Take Off), which would restrict the drone to arm, if it doesn’t have the permission token from the regulators. Once you have a compliant drone, operators will be required to do a one-time registration of drones, pilots and owners. For every flight (except nano drones, which weigh less than 250 gms), users will be required to ask for permission to fly, through a mobile app, and an automated process will permit or deny the request instantly. They have launched the Digital Sky Platform, an online portal for registration, applications and permissions for the use of drones for photography, recreational purposes as well as for commercial use as taxis or delivery vehicles and other services. This will be the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) portal to implement a regulatory framework hardcoded on the drones.
While it is robust and very forward thinking, it is equally ambitious when it comes to operationising it. The drone ecosystem is largely dominated by start-ups and small players and a successful execution of this policy is what will define the future of the entire drone ecosystem in India. For Indian manufacturers, complying to the regulation is the only way forward, given the bulk of their market is domestic. The real question around the scalability of such a solution would really depend on how comfortable global drone manufacturers would be to customise their technology for specific geographies. If global manufactures choose not to comply, this might just cost India massive losses across the entire ‘drone as a service’ ecosystem, which currently largely is dependent on international manufacturers.
Just the way Africa has been able to smoothly adopt the technology for various use cases, India really has the potential to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of drone technology, given the challenges across infrastructure, urban transportation, security surveillance, progress monitoring etc. But successful implementation of the regulation will be the key to invite innovation and investment into the space.
There is certainly a need for tightened regulations, especially after having seen the economic losses that can be incurred due to disorderly conduct like with the Gatwick incident. India is now open to the world of drone innovation and with the launch of these regulations, the Government made a clear statement that the skies are now open for all kinds of innovative solutions to hit the skies. However, the bottom line is that the technology is moving faster than the regulation, globally. The hope is that the regulations be built in a way that keeps safety at the core but are flexible and modular in a way that does not hamper innovation in the ecosystem.
Check out this bonus showreel, featuring stunning aerial images of India.
Rahat Kulshreshtha is the founder and CEO of Quidich, India’s leading provider of aerial cinematography services and the world’s first company to provide broadcast grade AR on a drone. In addition to cinematography, Quidich provides drone services in India for a broad range of clientele, including land mapping, road and railway corridorsurveying, mining and agriculture. Rahat is also the treasurer of the Drone Federation of India.