Drone operators gear up as DGCA grants permission for delivery trials

The possibilities of using drones for better service delivery are however, many more
Drone companies and delivery start-ups are gearing up for trial operations with their consortium partners after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCS) gave them go ahead for conducting experimental Below Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. 

The 13 consortia that have been made the cut are required to perform long-range flying tests for 100 hours each and submit the reports containing analytics and logs of the flight time to the aviation regulator by the last week of September. This information will be used as a base to formulate BVLOS framework by BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring (BEAM) Committee under the DGCA. 

Throttle Aerospace Systems, one of the 13 consortia which have been shortlist for the project, plans to begin trials by July. The Bengaluru-based startup has been assigned Gauribidanur in Karnataka as the airspace by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), to conduct pilot operations.

"Under the current Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) policy, only basic operations like mapping and surveillance is allowed. The approval for BVLOS is a move towards more booming commercial viabilities such as logistics deliveries and long-range operations for us," said Nagendran Kandaswamy, founder and managing director of Throttle Aerospace. 

The startup has partnered with Swiss-based Involi for unnamed traffic management (UTM) software for collision avoidance and US-based conglomerate Honeywell for safety management operations.

Using drones for food and other e-commerce-based deliveries has been a long standing dream of the sector. This new set of permissions for conducting experiments, granted by the aviation regulator will bring these firms one step closer to enabling regular deliveries through drones. 

Zomato said last year it had successfully tested its drone delivery technology. "We have been working on powering delivery via drones for some time now and (we) welcome this move from DGCA to test our systems. We are excited to build the future of aerial food delivery in India," said to a Zomato spokesperson on Thursday.

Dunzo and Throttle had received approvals earlier in March while consortia such as Spicejet, Reliance Industries-backed Asteria Aerospace and Nandan Nilekani backed ShopX Omnipresent had received letters of approval in the last week of May.

The possibilities of using drones for better service delivery are however, many more. 

ANRA Technologies, another drone operator that received approval last month, has been allotted two airspaces in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to conduct the trials. "It is one step closer to adding value to the delivery of essentials and help during medical emergencies especially to places that are difficult to get access by road," said Brij Mohan Ganjoo, director, ANRA Technologies. 

The Virginia headquartered firm that has a regional office in Noida received approvals for both its consortia (named A and B) where one will dedicate for delivery of essential health supplies such as life-saving drugs and blood, and the other consortium will focus on food delivery.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel