A partnership between the Maharashtra government and the Centre for The Fourth Industrial Revolution is exploring the use of drones for various government services.
The Centre which is a global hub for policy framework and collaborations on technology has been working on expanding the scope of drones, which till now have been used largely for military and gaming purposes.
Interestingly, now new possibilities are emerging for drone use for a huge array of the commercial arena that may include science and agriculture, services like traffic surveillance and also product delivery.
The government also issued the first regulation that permits the use of drones. However, India will be one of the crucibles where some of these tests will be done.
Timothy Reuter, Project Head for Drones for Tomorrow’s Airspace said, “This is a very exciting time for India in terms of drone technology on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.”
A workshop was held in Maharashtra in November, to explain the process of drone mapping for irrigation and improving agricultural output. It was attended by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis where he addressed that the work on those lines will continue.
Timothy Reuter explained the circumstances and said, “Right now, farmers have been suffering due to drought conditions. We are working to focus on agriculture grievances. Drone mapping can be used to improve irrigation systems and agricultural yield.”
Explaining the growing scope of drone use, the government issued the first regulation that permits the use of drones in December, said Mr Reuter.
Use of drone will be beneficial. It will allow applications like mapping for agriculture and infrastructure inspection. It will also provide additional usage including delivery, in health schemes and vaccination,” he added. Already, drones of different shapes and sizes are tried out for delivery of packages weighing between 5 and 500 kg.
On safe drone delivery in crowded spaces, he said, “The focus is on pilot models to develop drone corridors and ensure safety. They are trying to put in place the infrastructure. They have a digital space platform that helps them track where all the drones are, so they can ensure no laws are being violated.”
Talking about the future, he said, it may even include drones that would be able to carry people, which would essentially involve technology around “aerial autonomy, electric propulsion and integrated traffic management.
In congested cities like Delhi, it would be a boon, as it is not possible to grow terrestrial infrastructure.