Offering a commercial delivery service through drone to the general public is still a new idea for businesses around the world. While the world might have its first public drone delivery four months ago, India is taking a baby step towards offering the same.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has selected seven firms, out of 34 applicants, which applied for long-range, or beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone experiments.
Among the firms selected include food and delivery companies Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo, medical delivery providers Zipline and Redwing, and large enterprises Tata Advanced Systems and Honeywell. It had rejected 27 applications mainly on the grounds of incomplete information.
The civil aviation authority has asked these firms to submit further technical details, as per ET report that quoted one of the selected firms, which hopes to get approvals by November.
The process has been delayed by a couple of months. As per the original plan, the civil authority, which had set deadline in July for participant interest, wanted to be done with approvals by August.
Unavailability fo members of the BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring (BEAM) committee has also added to the problem. Meanwhile, another sub-committee has been formed to expedite the process, added the report.
The companies selected for the experiments hope that by January they would be able to fly drones in a few locations.
Earlier in June, Zomato had conducted the delivery test using a hybrid drone, with a fusion of rotary-wing and fixed wings on a single drone. The company was successfully and seamlessly able to cover a distance of 5 km, in about 10 minutes, with a peak speed of 80 kmph, carrying a payload of 5 kgs.
In December 2018, the govt legalised flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It also set up an online portal called ‘Digital Sky’ for drone registration.
Besides, the govt also drafted a new drone policy for regulations. Under which, it defined five different categories — Nano: less than or equal to 250 grams, Micro: from 250 grams to 2 kg, Small: from 2kg to 25 kg, medium: From 25 kg to 150 kg and Large: greater than 150 kg.
Nano drones that weigh less than 250 grams will not be required registration.