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How Drones Work and How the Govt is Controlling Its Use in India

We explain what is the tech behind drones and how the government is controlling its use.

Published
Explainers
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The first-ever drone attack in India was reported on 21 June at an Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu.</p></div>
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On 21 June, two explosives-laden drones crashed into the Jammu Air Force base resulting in simultaneous explosions. This first-ever drone attack in India comes close on the heels of Indian government's approval of commercial operation of drones.

We explain what is the technology behind drones and how the government is regulating its operations.

How Drones Work and How the Govt is Controlling Its Use in India

  1. 1. How Drones Work?

    Drones, are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes). It is a device that can be remotely controlled through softwares, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.

    A drone is made of light composite materials which help reduce weight and increase its motion operation. The material strength allows drones to fly at extremely high altitudes.

    UAV drones are packed with state of the art technologies such as infrared cameras, GPS and laser.

    The latest high-tech drones are equipped with collision avoidance systems. These drones are packed with sensors to scan the surroundings, and produce the images into 3D maps to avoid any obstacle.

    Expand
  2. 2. Where Are Drones Used For?

    With advancement in technology, drones are now used for various purposes from delivery of e-commerce goods, taking photographs, shooting videos to military warfare and space exploration.

    In 1991 gulf war, US Military began the first demonstration of drones to target its enemy forces.

    Nowadays, drones are also used for different purposes and applications such as delivery, national highway mapping, railway track mapping, smart agricultural work, agriculture land survey, forest monitoring, surveillance and much more.

    Expand
  3. 3. What is a Drone Delivery Service?

    Several Indian companies are working towards the implementation of delivering packages via drones. This delivery method will be especially useful for small packages. Items like books, documents, medicine, and food items can be easily delivered.

    In the US, these deliveries are very common. As of writing this article, there are more than one million drones registered in the US alone.

    Google-backed delivery and e-commerce firm Dunzo Digital is experimenting BVLOS (Below Visual Line of Sight) drone delivery flights for the 'Medicine from the Sky Project'. The aim of this project is to help improve access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    It is expected that drones will soon be adopted for deliveries by logistic firms like FedEx and DHL. However, it should be noted that drones can only deliver packages between 0.5kgs to 8kgs, and within a 5km radius.

    Expand
  4. 4. How Drones Became a Tool of Terror

    The recent attacks on the Jammu air base revealed how the drone tech is capable of being misused.

    A report published by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in February 2021, said that the Islamic State made the first successful use of drones for terrorism.

    Al-Qaeda, in 2013, also attempted a terror attack using multiple drones in Pakistan without success. Since 2016 , the Islamic State have made drone attacks a regular feature in its operations in Iraq and Syria.

    Earlier, in 2019, European Union Security Commissioner Julian King warned that European cities could be targeted by terror groups using drones.

    Not only the Islamic State, but the Hezbollah active in Palestine and Lebanon, the Houthi rebels, and several other terror outfits in Pakistan are known to employ drones for terrorism.

    Expand
  5. 5. What Are the Types of Drones Available?

    There are different types of drones available:

    • Nano (less than or equal to 250 grams),

    • Micro (greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kilograms),

    • Mini (greater than 2 kilograms and less than or equal to 25 kilograms),

    • Small (greater than 25 kilograms and less than or equal to 150 kilograms), and

    • Large (greater than 150 kilograms).

    Expand
  6. 6. How is Govt Controlling Drone Use?

    The Ministry of Aviation has imposed several restrictions on flying drones in India.

    According to the guidelines published, micro drones shall not fly beyond beyond a height of 60 meters above ground level (AGL) or a maximum speed of 25 meters per second (m/s).

    For small drones, the height limit prescribed by the government is of 120 meters and speed latency of 25 m/s.

    While medium or large drones shall fly in accordance with the conditions specified in the Operator Permit issued by the DGCA.

    Prohibited areas are strictly off-limits, while for restricted areas, prior permission from the DGCA is required.

    Expand
  7. 7. Do You Need a Licence to Fly a Drone?

    In order to fly drones, except for nano category, a licence is mandatory, and this can be obtained only through DGCA approved Flying Training Organisations.

    There are two types of licences offered: Student Remote Pilot Licence and Remote Pilot Licence. The minimum age to apply for both student and remote pilot licences is 18 years and the maximum age at which you can obtain a licence is of 65 years.

    • Student Remote Pilot License: A student licence is valid for a period of five years and can be renewed only for an additional period of 2 years. You should have passed Class 10 or its equivalent examination from a recognised Board.

    • Remote Pilot License. A remote pilot licence is valid for 10 years, and can be renewed for another 10 years with each renewal application.

    Expand
  8. 8. What is the Penalty for Flying Drones Illegally in India?

    Flying drones without a valid licence will be subjected to a hefty fee of Rs 25,000.

    India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has also said that the flying over no-operation zones will attract a fine of INR 50,000.

    It is also important for a drone pilot to have a valid third party insurance. Flying without valid third-party insurance will be subject to a fine of INR 10,000.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

How Drones Work?

Drones, are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes). It is a device that can be remotely controlled through softwares, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.

A drone is made of light composite materials which help reduce weight and increase its motion operation. The material strength allows drones to fly at extremely high altitudes.

UAV drones are packed with state of the art technologies such as infrared cameras, GPS and laser.

The latest high-tech drones are equipped with collision avoidance systems. These drones are packed with sensors to scan the surroundings, and produce the images into 3D maps to avoid any obstacle.

Where Are Drones Used For?

With advancement in technology, drones are now used for various purposes from delivery of e-commerce goods, taking photographs, shooting videos to military warfare and space exploration.

In 1991 gulf war, US Military began the first demonstration of drones to target its enemy forces.

Nowadays, drones are also used for different purposes and applications such as delivery, national highway mapping, railway track mapping, smart agricultural work, agriculture land survey, forest monitoring, surveillance and much more.

ADVERTISEMENT

What is a Drone Delivery Service?

Several Indian companies are working towards the implementation of delivering packages via drones. This delivery method will be especially useful for small packages. Items like books, documents, medicine, and food items can be easily delivered.

In the US, these deliveries are very common. As of writing this article, there are more than one million drones registered in the US alone.

Google-backed delivery and e-commerce firm Dunzo Digital is experimenting BVLOS (Below Visual Line of Sight) drone delivery flights for the 'Medicine from the Sky Project'. The aim of this project is to help improve access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is expected that drones will soon be adopted for deliveries by logistic firms like FedEx and DHL. However, it should be noted that drones can only deliver packages between 0.5kgs to 8kgs, and within a 5km radius.

ADVERTISEMENT

How Drones Became a Tool of Terror

The recent attacks on the Jammu air base revealed how the drone tech is capable of being misused.

A report published by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in February 2021, said that the Islamic State made the first successful use of drones for terrorism.

Al-Qaeda, in 2013, also attempted a terror attack using multiple drones in Pakistan without success. Since 2016 , the Islamic State have made drone attacks a regular feature in its operations in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier, in 2019, European Union Security Commissioner Julian King warned that European cities could be targeted by terror groups using drones.

Not only the Islamic State, but the Hezbollah active in Palestine and Lebanon, the Houthi rebels, and several other terror outfits in Pakistan are known to employ drones for terrorism.

ADVERTISEMENT

What Are the Types of Drones Available?

There are different types of drones available:

  • Nano (less than or equal to 250 grams),

  • Micro (greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kilograms),

  • Mini (greater than 2 kilograms and less than or equal to 25 kilograms),

  • Small (greater than 25 kilograms and less than or equal to 150 kilograms), and

  • Large (greater than 150 kilograms).

ADVERTISEMENT

How is Govt Controlling Drone Use?

The Ministry of Aviation has imposed several restrictions on flying drones in India.

According to the guidelines published, micro drones shall not fly beyond beyond a height of 60 meters above ground level (AGL) or a maximum speed of 25 meters per second (m/s).

For small drones, the height limit prescribed by the government is of 120 meters and speed latency of 25 m/s.

While medium or large drones shall fly in accordance with the conditions specified in the Operator Permit issued by the DGCA.

Prohibited areas are strictly off-limits, while for restricted areas, prior permission from the DGCA is required.

ADVERTISEMENT

Do You Need a Licence to Fly a Drone?

In order to fly drones, except for nano category, a licence is mandatory, and this can be obtained only through DGCA approved Flying Training Organisations.

There are two types of licences offered: Student Remote Pilot Licence and Remote Pilot Licence. The minimum age to apply for both student and remote pilot licences is 18 years and the maximum age at which you can obtain a licence is of 65 years.

  • Student Remote Pilot License: A student licence is valid for a period of five years and can be renewed only for an additional period of 2 years. You should have passed Class 10 or its equivalent examination from a recognised Board.

  • Remote Pilot License. A remote pilot licence is valid for 10 years, and can be renewed for another 10 years with each renewal application.

ADVERTISEMENT

What is the Penalty for Flying Drones Illegally in India?

Flying drones without a valid licence will be subjected to a hefty fee of Rs 25,000.

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has also said that the flying over no-operation zones will attract a fine of INR 50,000.

It is also important for a drone pilot to have a valid third party insurance. Flying without valid third-party insurance will be subject to a fine of INR 10,000.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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