A private or personal drone, which is also known as a hobby or consumer drone is basically a cost effective Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) available for sale in the open market. Although drones could be used for several purposes, these could only be used by the police or civic volunteer force and not by the public, who could have taken advantage of using these low cost devices for personal or home surveillance purposes. Needless to say, a low-flying drone would prove much more effective than a fixed point or localized CCTV for recording mass violence, attempts at theft or burglary as also criminal activities.
In a major decision, the Aviation Ministry, government of India decided that flying of drones for civilian purposes will be legal in India from December 1 this year. In other words, anybody can now use drones for personal purposes. However, the DGCA has restricted the flying of drones to some extent as will be evidenced below.
The users of drones will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones. They will also need to register the aviators of these drones as well as their owners. After the registration, users will have to request for permission to fly it on a mobile application. An automated process will either permit or deny the request instantly. Thereafter, if the permission is denied, any drone without the digital permit will be unable to take off. If the permission is given, the drones will be allowed to fly during daytime-only. The maximum altitude allowed for drones to fly will be 400-ft. According to the regulations, the airspace has been partitioned into several zones, such as the Red Zone (flying not permitted), the Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and the Green Zone (automatic permission) which will apply once the flying of drones becomes legal. However, it must be kept in mind that a drone is an unmanned aircraft system that can fly with ground-based control without a human pilot on board. Some of them allow users to record and click pictures through the remote control. Hence, their use without permission was restricted due to security reasons. In 2014, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) prohibited the launch of any UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) by any individual or any non-governmental agency.
Drone startups, that include Quidich Innovation Labs, Aarav Unmanned Systems, Asteria Aerospace and Indrones, among others have united together to suggest changes to the government’s proposed draft regulations for drone companies operating in India. Ten other drone companies have expressed their desire to join the body called Drone Federation of India. Tarun Malkani, former COO of Rio Tinto Diamonds has joined the body as an executive core committee member. The members of the Federation, a first of its kind in India, are a conglomeration of drone manufacturers, service providers and industry experts. “Our objective is industry advocacy, and to work alongside key government bodies like DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to influence policy decision concerning drones in India,” said Vignesh Santhanam, President, Drone Federation of India and Head of Marketing at Quidich, which manufacturers drones for surveillance and security purposes.