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New Drone Rules: A mature regulatory regime for drone-based deliveries

For drone delivery to become a reality, a permissive regulatory regime is a prerequisite.

By Anirudh Rastogi, Aman Taneja, and Rahul Krishna Delivery through drones is expected to significantly cut logistics costs and is touted to be one of the most significant commercial uses cases for drones. A number of companies across the world have either started drone delivery or are piloting such projects. Recently, major Indian food delivery brands such as Swiggy, Zomato, and Dunzo have begun trials for drone-based delivery as well. For drone delivery to become a reality, a permissive regulatory regime is a prerequisite. The Drone Rules, 2021 appear to encourage drone deliveries, however, there seems to be an intent to go slow; to understand the technology better before notifying any in-depth regulations. This keeps in line with the recent approach of the government to regulating drones - taking on-board industry feedback and regulating iteratively. The crucial regulatory elements for drone delivery are permission for Beyond Visual Line of Sight or BVLOS operations, which mean that drones can be flown without the remote pilot having visual contact with the drone, and permission to carry and drop payloads from drones. But the Drone Rules make no mention of BVLOS operations or the dropping of payloads from drones. These issues are a notable omission from the rules, especially considering the dialogue about them by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and their inclusion in previous drafts of the regulations. How the Rules facilitate drone delivery The Drone Rules increase the maximum permissible all-up weight, the weight of the drone as well as…

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