As we live in a time of rapid technological development, its growth is transforming the world far beyond our anticipation!
Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are one such development. They have been used by the Indian defence forces since 1999, so they aren’t new to the system; but due to security concerns and the absence of a robust UAV ecosystem in the country, their use was quite limited. Now that the Government of India has issued fresh guidelines, drones are expected to become the next big thing for India! With the Ministry of Civil Aviation updating the Drone Rules 2021, efforts are being made for India to become a global drone hub by 2030.
“Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize, in positive ways to help society.” — Bill Gates
There certainly is an upsurge in market opportunity for those providers who can improve the transport and delivery of packages to customers via drones. As the use of drones is escalating in recent years, so too are the hopes that drones would deliver supplies anywhere. In fact, E-commerce giants have been at the helm of research, development, and filing patents in drone technology since 2005.
India is catching up fast, even though the commercial use and progress of drones have been relatively modest so far. Food delivery unicorn Swiggy, in partnership with integrated airspace company ANRA Technologies, ran over 300 delivery trials of food and medicines using drone technology. Although this had lit a spark in the minds and hearts of people who were looking forward to more and more creative technological advances, the consumers might have to wait a bit longer as Swiggy plans to pilot the service as a strictly business-to-business (B2B) model, involving inventory transfer or stock refill purposes.
Keeping in mind that more than 65% of the population inhabits rural areas, a new and more effective way of distributing resources is required to overcome logistical problems, making drones the perfect solution. The idea of drones making the delivery of medicines and other necessities more accessible and faster, especially in harsh terrains is being worked upon. Drone delivery of medical goods and time-sensitive transplant organs will also aid in improved resource management of limited supplies with less human intervention, thereby avoiding potential traffic and saving time, resources and anticipated risk of life.
Department of information technology, Himachal Pradesh, in collaboration with Skye Air, a drone delivery technology firm, has started Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS- refers to drone missions where it goes outside the usual visual range of the pilot) trials to use drones for medicine deliveries in the remote areas of Chamba district. During the pandemic, a trial run was launched for delivering vaccines by drones - ‘Medicine from the Sky’, a joint initiative of the Telangana government, World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals), to healthcare centres in remote areas making it a historic moment for our country.
In the event of a natural disaster, authorities can dispatch drones to monitor the affected areas and henceforth take the required and necessary actions. Severe earthquakes, floods and landslides create enough havoc which makes it difficult for the rescue team to deliver and for the victims to receive basic survival requirements. Drone Delivery can thus potentially be used as a social rescue device in serious situations like these.
The size of the global commercial drone market is estimated at $27.4 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to $43 billion in 2025. Out of which, India’s drone sector is expected to have a turnover of $1.3-2.04 billion by 2026.
In conclusion, there is no doubt about the fact that the use of drones has the potential to have a far-reaching positive impact on society, especially when it comes to catering the interest of the consumers. The public was, is and will remain intrigued with the drone delivery facility. But all we can say is that even though the initiative has begun, there is still a long way to go in this field. Gradually more revolutionary steps will be taken, and guidelines will be issued for taking forward our country’s technological and economical advancement through UAVs.