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New draft policy: Soon, drones may be used for doorstep delivery of e-commerce packages

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NEW DELHI: Drones may soon deliver e-commerce packages to your doorstep under the draft norms unveiled by the civil aviation ministry on Wednesday. Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said that regulations for the
unmanned aircraft systems+
, once finalised, would permit the commercial use of drones in India.

Under the draft rules, small drones (weighing less than 250 grams) would be exempt from registration or licencing requirements. The new rules also allow “air rickshaws” when the technology is available, said aviation minister Jayant Sinha.

However, the rules mention areas where
drone flying+
by private individuals is prohibited due to aviation safety and security reasons. The areas are: within 5-km radius of an airport; within 50 km from international border and beyond 500 metres into sea along coastline; within 5-km radius of Vijay Chowk in Delhi; from a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft; over densely populated areas and places where emergency operations are underway.

The draft rules divide drones into five categories based on weight. The lightest are below 250 grams and called Nano drones. There are four categories above this: 250 gram to 2 kg; 2-25 kg; 25-150 kg and above 150 kg.

Except Nano drones and those operated by security agencies, all other categories of drones must be registered with the DGCA which will give them a unique identification number.

Except for the lightest two categories, people operating heavier drones will require an “unmanned aircraft operator permit.” All drones will be required to fly below 200 feet. Barring Nano drones, all other heavier drones will be required to have anti-collision lights and return-to-home option.

“We are working on technology to neutralise rogue drones. We are also looking at technology which does not allow drones to deviate from the cleared route even if the operator tries to do that,” secretary Choubey said.

“Drones are a very dynamic. We have to be nimble-footed in having regulations that enable its optimal use as the technology evolves. People are also working on ‘air rickshaws’,” Sinha said.

“These rules allow companies to deliver goods via drones to their customers provided they follow the norms. Both the aviation ministers wanted it (drones) to be open for all to use, including businesses,” said Choubey.

The secretary said the final policy on drones may be out by the end of this year as the draft gives 30 days for inviting public comments which are then evaluated.

Updated: November 1, 2017 — 9:31 pm

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