Swiggy, Dunzo and ShopX among other companies have received ministry of civil aviation’s (MoCA) approval to carry out experimental drone flight operations in India beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). BVLOS operations are those drones that are remotely piloted beyond the line of sight of the remote operator. So far, India’s drone regulations have been rather stringent on the use of BVLOS flights.
The approval is a key step in startups and other companies using drones for long-haul flights such as delivery of medicines, vaccines, food and other items.
A total of 20 entities have been granted such conditional exemption from unmanned aircraft system (UAS) rules of 2021 by the ministry on Tuesday (May 5). The conditional exemption will be valid for a period of one year, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
“The preliminary permission grant is envisioned to assist the supplementary framework development of subsequent UAV rules pertaining to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations… BVLOS trials will help create a framework for future drone deliveries and other major applications using drones,” MoCA added.
List of selected consortia for experimental BVLOS drone operations
- Aerospace Industry Development Association of Tamil Nadu (AIDAT)
- ANRA Consortium A (by ANRA Technologies)
- ANRA Consortium B (by ANRA Technologies)
- Asteria Aerospace Pvt Ltd (backed by Reliance Industries)
- AutoMicroUAS Aerotech Pvt Ltd
- Centillion Networks Pvt Ltd
- ClearSky Flight Consortium
- Dhaksha Unmanned Systems Pvt Ltd
- Dunzo Air Consortium
- Marut Drontech Pvt Ltd
- Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd
- Saubika Consortium
- Skylark Drones & Swiggy (consortium of Skylark Drones and Swiggy)
- ShopX Omnipresent Consortium (consortium of aerospace company Omnipresent and ShopX)
- Spicejet Ltd
- Terradrone Consortium B
- The Consortium
- Throttle Aerospace Systems
- Value Thought IT Solutions
- Virginia Tech India (VT India)
The government had constituted the ‘BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring (BEAM) Committee in 2019 to invite expression of interest (EoI) to undertake BVLOS experimental flights of drones. The committee received 34 EoIs, of which the above-mentioned 20 were selected.
Zomato too was one of the companies that were allowed to conduct trials for drone delivery trials last year. However, the company had not received the permission to conduct the BVLOS trial this year
Only last week, MoCA had allowed the Telangana government to use drones within visual line of sight (VLOS) range for experimental delivery of Covid-19 vaccines across the state, for a period of one year. Besides this, it has allowed Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for conducting feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones in collaboration with IIT Kanpur.
Such grants intend to achieve the dual objective of faster vaccine delivery and improved healthcare access by limiting human exposure, ensuring access to healthcare to the last mile and improving the medical supply chain, the ministry had added.