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Govt Plans To Make India A Drone Hub By 2030, Notifies Drone Certification Scheme

Govt Plans To Make India A Drone Hub By 2030, Notifies Drone Certification Scheme

New rules notified in a bid to make drone certification “simpler, faster and transparent.”

Manufacturers will have to submit test data results and other key specifications including weight, speed, type of launch.

A Steering Committee chaired by a “known professional”, along with the Quality Control of India Secretariat to oversee the scheme.

The Centre, on January 26, notified the drone certification scheme in order to spur the drone manufacturing industry in the country and make certification simpler, faster and transparent. The move is in line with Centre’s bid to make India the “drone hub of the world” by 2030.

The scheme sets minimum safety and quality requirements to boost manufacturing of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the country. The scheme will be applicable to indigenous drone manufacturers, assemblers and importers.

The notification said, “The release of Drone Rules 2021 has made it possible to establish a global certification and accreditation framework for drones that would scale, with appropriate safeguards, the commercial application of various drone technologies.”

Under the new scheme, manufacturers will have to submit test data results while submitting their application for certification. The manufacturers will also have to mention other key details including weight, speed, type of launch and recovery mechanism installed, among other specifications.

A Steering Committee chaired by a “known professional”, along with the Quality Control of India Secretariat will oversee the scheme. The steering committee will also include technical and certification panels.

“The government has been working to establish a world-leading drone ecosystem in India, which will create the physical and digital infrastructure to support safe, efficient and secure access to the Indian airspace by millions of drones”, said the notification issued by MoCA.

The application for registration and operation of drones can be submitted on the single-window DigitalSky Platform. The platform also hosts the airspace maps that can be used for drone navigation and for reference to zone restrictions.

This comes on the back of the new Drone Rules that were released in July last year. These rules had significantly eased regulations around the use of drones in India. This was followed by the announcement of the INR 120 Cr Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, in September last year, for drones and drone components manufacturers.

The move will benefit startups, innovators as well as R&D institutions and will help in creating niche products for emerging markets.

Earlier, in September, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said that have turnover of around INR 15,000 Cr by 2026. This is expected to create more jobs and help enable an industry that has long been struggling due to bureaucratic hurdles.

The new certification rules add to a slew of policies by the Union Government to spur the adoption of drones. Along with the Drones Rules 2021, the PLI scheme and the DigitalSky Platform, the future looks good for the drone-manufacturing industry.

India’s drone industry continues to be in its nascent stages. A mere 180 drone startups are operational in the country with as much as $27 Mn being raised by these startups over the years.

The lukewarm response to the sector has been attributed to red tape and Indian laws which had created hurdles for adoption of drones in India. Issues related to national security have been cited as reasons for delaying the adoption of drones, but the sector was liberalised last year following MoCA’s new Drone Rules. 

In December last year, telecom giant Reliance Jio announced that it had conducted successful trials of its connected drones on its indigenously developed 5G network. 

Many states also began long-range drone deliveries on a pilot basis in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Punjab in June of 2021. This was done to test the viability of home deliveries of medicines, ecommerce and food orders using drones. 

Hyperlocal delivery app Dunzo too, last year, had announced plans to test drone deliveries of medicines in Telangana through a partnership with the state government and the World Economic Forum. In December, IPO-bound logistics startup Delhivery had acquired California-based drone startup Transition Robotics for an undisclosed amount.

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