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Q: Examine the diverse applications of drones across sectors. Identify the major obstacles impeding the growth and utilization of drone technology in India. (15 Marks, 250 Words)

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Remotely Piloted Aircrafts, popularly referred to as drones, are unmanned aircrafts piloted from a remote platform. Drones, with its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and other components form a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It has many wide-ranging applications.


Key Areas of Application:



Challenges and limitations hindering the growth of drone sector in India:

» Evolving Regulatory framework: The regulatory framework for drone sector in India is still evolving, and this can make it difficult for businesses to operate.
» Poor Demand: There is a lack of awareness among people and businesses about potential uses and applications of drone sector. This has kept the potential demand on the lower side.
» Safety Concerns: With increased uses of drones, there may be increased risk of drone accidents/ drone falling. This may create problems specially in a densely populated area.
» Privacy Concerns: Drones may be used for spying on people without their permission leading to privacy violations.
» Cybersecurity issues: Drones are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and these attacks may disrupt drone operations.
» Job Losses: In future, when drones are used for work like delivery by online sellers, food delivery companies etc, it may lead to a job loss situation for a lot of people.
» Military use of drones can also be very devastating:
▫ Easier, violation of sovereignty
§ For e.g., in recent years, sightings of drones along the Indo-Pak borders have increased.
§ Drones have been used by Pakistan based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunitions and drugs in India.
▫ Risk of overusing of military options
▫ Making it more difficult to identify violations of constraints against targeting noncombatants.

Key steps taken in recent times to promote drone sector in India:

Liberalized Drone Rules, 2021
» India’s Airspace Map for Drone Operations Released by Ministry of Civil Aviation
» PLI scheme for Drones, 2021
» Guidelines for PLI incentive scheme to support Indigenous drone industry (Nov 2022)
» Drone Shakti Scheme – Financial incentives to startups that are developing drone based solutions.
» Initiatives to promote the use of drones in different sectors like Agriculture, infrastructure logistics etc.

Way Forward:

» Encourage drone use in various sectors like logistics, infrastructure, agriculture etc.
» Create a favorable regulatory environment: The 2021 rules need further simplification to promote ease of doing business in the drone sector
» Support Drone Industry
Launch a drone startup accelerator program.
More R&D Support: Government should incentivize/support R&D in drone sector to ensure innovation and development in the drone sector.
▫ Organized drone-expos and conferences.
» Encourage PPP models in Drone sector – This will help pool resources and expertise and accelerate the development of the sector.

» Education and Skill development: Create dedicated courses for drone sector at both graduation and post-graduation level to promote drone sector. Jobs in the areas of drone repairs will be a big deal.
» Promote Industry-Academia collaboration to support research.
» Focus on Cyber Security, which is expected to increase in vulnerability
» Plan for sustainable disposal of e-waste generated by the use of drones.