Swiggy, Dunzo and 17 other similar companies have now been given the go ahead for experimental drone flight operations by the civil aviation ministry in India. Last year the government had announced that the ‘carriage of payload’ as well as ‘dropping of articles’ by unmanned aerial vehicles is prohibited under the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020.
These experimental drone flight operations will be beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS), which means that an exemption has been granted to these 20 companies for experimentation. Other than SpiceJet, Dunzo Air Consortium, Skylark Drones and Swiggy, these companies also include Virginia Tech India, ShopX Omnipresent Consortium, Asteria Aerospace, Centillion Networks, Marut Dronetech and Sagar Defence Engineering, as confirmed by the ministry.
The ministry has tweeted about this decision that these 20 companies will be given an exemption from the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, for “conducting the BVLOS experimental flights.”
On May 13, 2019 a committee was formed by the ministry which invited expressions of interest EOIs for BVLOS experimental flights. The Committee received 34 EOIs from which the above mentioned 20 entities have been selected after evaluation. Last year in June, it was reported that SpiceJet and Reliance Industries backed start-up Asteria Aerospace had given approval to test fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones.
Additionally, it is reported that the management consulting firm Alternative Global India (AGI) will be assisting both Zomato and Dunzo as a consulting partner to conduct these trials. The homegrown food aggregator business, Zomato, will be starting its testing in Alwar in Rajasthan, while the hyperlocal delivery platform Dunzo is planning to go through trials in the outskirts of Bengaluru.