A Drone usually refers to any unpiloted aircraft. Often referred to as Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), these drones can carry out a wide variety of tasks ranging from military operations to package delivery. Drones can be as large as an aircraft or as small as one’s palm. Drones may not have to always be autonomous but they do have some amount of programming that goes into them to stabilize themselves at all possible positions high or low in the atmosphere.
Drones can be controlled remotely and can be flown at varying distances and heights, hence they make perfect choices to take on the difficult jobs in the world. They can be found helping in a search for survivors after a hurricane, giving law enforcement and military a bird’s eye view during terrorist situations and during scientific research the most extreme climates on the planet. Drones have even made their way into our homes and serve as entertainment for tech enthusiasts and a vital tool for photographers.
While there are various uses for drones in today’s day and age, drones bring about significant risks as well. Any drone that can be used by the military and welfare or the people can also be used against them. If any terrorist organisation does acquire the technology to carry out a drone war or a drone bombing, it would be even worse than an actual bombing because now they can target places even with the highest of security. All they would lose if a drone which may cost millions of dollars at best.
With the recent use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for helping with the various floods and the COVID-19 related relief operations, the authorities realised that the current laws for civil operations of Drone in India had several missing links. Consequently, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation introduced the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules.
The classifications and regulations are done mainly on two factors. The remote capabilities of the drone and they size/speed/actual capability of the drone.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems are those which have a separate station to control the drone. Model Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems are those that do not have any payload and mostly used for educational purposes. The drone is always in the line of sight of the control center. Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems are those that have AI or machine learning implemented into them. They are programmed a certain way for certain tasks and do not need human control at all times. The other category for classification is on the basis of the weight and speed of the drone.
Nano unmanned aircraft- Less than or equal to 250 grams with a max speed of 15 m/s
Micro unmanned aircraft- More than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg
Small unmanned aircraft- More than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg
Medium unmanned aircraft- More than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg
Large unmanned aircraft- More than 150 kg
Alongside such classifications, the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) has further ordered that no drone parts shall be imported in the country without prior permission and registration with the Civil Aviation department.
Valid certificate of manufacture and 13 criterions of safety test have to be passed in order to receive air worthiness and license to fly a drone. The nano and micro category have more benefits that the other due to the lesser intense safety criteria to be passed.
In my opinion, the drone market is a growing one. The DGCA has for the first time anticipated threats beforehand and made a pretty intensive rulebook to control any and all operations regarding drones in the country. Drones can be the future or warfare as well as emergency aid in combat and medicine. With the widespread use of drones for shooting movies and weddings, safety is a big concern. The new rules will bring about new reforms in the beneficial control of technology and also increase existing safety standards in the use of such drones.
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