The coronavirus pandemic has been a test for human resolve. And it is in these testing times that the resilience and spirit of humankind shine through. Rise of drones during and post-COVID is one such example.
COVID-19 has accelerated the development and adoption of emerging technologies. As individuals, businesses and governments scramble to find effective methods to cope with the disruptions caused by the pandemic, unmanned aerial technologies have proven to be extremely useful. From delivering supplies to disinfecting contaminated areas and even asking people out on dates, drones have proven to be a cost-effective and reliable alternative to conventional methods. This rise in popularity has seen the annual global drone market growth estimates swell to 18% over the next few years.
India is slowly warming up to the idea of post COVID drones. 2018 saw a 4-year long ban on civil drones being lifted, with a regulatory policy put in place regarding usage and manufacturing. The past few months have brought drones back in focus though, with UAVs being used extensively for delivery, disinfection and surveillance activities. Taking cognizance of this, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation recently launched the GARUD portal for providing fast-tracked approval for the use of drones for COVID-related relief activities. The DGCA also released Draft Unmanned Aerial Systems Rules in June 2020 for public consultation.
The legitimacy lent to unmanned aerial vehicles brings back into spotlight its potential to have a transformational impact across industries.
As businesses tighten their purse strings, cope with reduced workforces and social distancing norms, drones become an attractive option not only for goods delivery but also in-house inventory management. Delivery services like Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo have already started developing drones for delivery, while California-based startup FlytBase is deploying inventory drones at warehouses and distribution centers in the USA.