New Drone Policy in India: It’s Bitter-Sweet News for Amazon, Microsoft and Google

The Drone Policy in India is being welcomed by drone startups that were waiting for this policy to come into place to enable sales of their products

A policy that was awaited for years by students, professionals and enterprises has finally come into place. The Government of India yesterday announced a new drone policy wherein people will now be allowed to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) with a few mandated rules and regulations. The regulations are expected to come into effect on 1 December 2018. Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) commonly known as drones are a technology platform that can be put into use in several industries like agriculture, e-commerce, and even traffic management.

The regulations that have been framed are based on the weight of the drone using which they have been segregated into five categories namely nano (less than or equal to 250gm), micro (250 gm to 2kg), small (2kg to 25kg), medium (25kg to 150kg) and large (greater than 150kg). The air space where drones will be allowed to operate too have been partitioned into the following zones: Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace) and Green Zone (automatic permission). The ‘no drone zones’ are areas around the airport, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi and areas with military installations.

This news is being welcomed by drone startups in India that were waiting for this policy to come into place to enable sales of their products. AirPix is one such startup that provides recommendations to enterprises by collecting aerial data through its drones and carrying out data analytics. Some other startups that deal with drones and trying to make it big are GarudaUAV, IdeaForge and Edall Systems to name a few.

However, the Drone Policy in India has another clause that might be a hindrance for companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. The policy has put a ban on delivery of goods as of now, which is bound to hit e-commerce companies that were looking to use drones to deliver their products in a more efficient and faster way. Let us now take a look at how the drone policy in India is expected to affect each of these companies and the UAVs they were working on.

Drone Policy in India is Bitter-Sweet for Amazon

Amazon is working on its very own drone named Amazon Prime Air, designed to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. The product is being tested in the US. Prime Air would be a good addition to the manual delivery system that Amazon has as of now to increase the efficiency of package delivery. This, however, cannot be applied in India until new tweaks are announced to the existing policy. Nevertheless, the sweet news for Amazon is that students and professionals are increasingly looking for drones that are on sale on the e-commerce site. Consumers are looking for prices of drones in India in large numbers. Products like DJI Mavic Air priced at Rs 90,000 and Parrot Bepop 2, which is currently available in the US at $340.98 (approximately Rs 23,900) may be bought by consumers leading to added revenue for the website. There are also several drones available on Amazon used for recreational purposes that may be bought by students.

Google Wing May Not See the Light of Day in India

Google was developing its very own product Wing, which was only focusing on delivery of goods, to compete with traditional goods delivery companies like FedEx and DHL. The product, which is currently being tested in US, as of now cannot make it to India due to the policy in place. The project Wing was aiming to increase access to goods, reduce traffic congestion in cities, and help ease the CO2 emissions attributable to the transportation of goods.

Microsoft Drones May Now Capture the Indian Market

Microsoft has introduced three drones mainly for recreational purposes namely Parrot Max Jumping Race Drone, Parrot Airborne Cargo Mars Drone and Parrot Disco FPV Drone. The Parrot Airborne Cargo Mars Drone is capable of carrying a toy pilot or miniature freight. Priced at $1299 (approximately Rs 91,000) Parrot Disco FPV Drone aims at giving users a cockpit experience and also has cockpit glasses and a skycontroller. Microsoft can now market these products in India.

Apart from recreational products, Microsoft recently formed a partnership with DJI (a company that deals with civilian drones and aerial imaging technology) to bring advanced AI and machine learning capabilities to DJI drones, helping businesses harness the power of commercial drone technology and edge cloud computing.  DJI is releasing a software development kit (SDK) for Windows that extends the power of commercial drone technology to the enterprise developer community in the world. Using applications written for Windows 10 PCs, DJI drones can be customized and controlled for a wide variety of industrial uses, with full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities, making drone technology accessible to Windows 10 customers numbering nearly 700 million globally, said a press release issued by Microsoft.

DJI is using Microsoft Azure as its cloud computing partner to help turn vast quantities of aerial imagery and video data into actionable insights for thousands of businesses across the globe.