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13 startups get nod to fly drones

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has given nod to a  consortia of 13 delivery startups to test fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones. Dunzo, Swiggy and Zomato, Throttle Aerospace, budget airline SpiceJet and Reliance-backed drone startup Asteria Aerospace are some of those startups that received the green signal by the civil aviation regulator. 

As a part of this experiment, the unmanned vehicles either carry payloads or survey vast swathes of land, since the first week of July. With this, the country will take the first steps towards developing local drone-based services capabilities. These companies will need to clock at least 100 hours of flight time in airspace designated by the Airports Authority of India, by September 30 and submit the data to the DGCA.

“Once they (the consortia) complete their flights and submit their logs, then we can really understand what will need to be the specifications required for BVLOS,” stated a senior government official. He added that the onset of Covid-19 pandemic in the country pushed the plans of the government for drafting a policy by August.

What sets drones apart from other forms of aviation is that drones do not require the state to sink billions of dollars into R&D unlike other emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing.