The move to allow flying of drones from December 1 is welcome even if the restrictions on operating them are so severe that it appears to be licensing merely of a hobby. It’s said commercial drone operations are allowed in agriculture, disaster relief, security and surveillance, but it seems most of these are for government agencies than individuals. The DGCA would have us believe a whole range of commercial operations will be allowed, but those imagining they could deliver pizzas or medicines to customers are in for disappointment. The ones celebrating may be IITs and elite institutions that use drones for academic and research purposes as they are exempt from the red tape of a registration process, even if it’s online via an app. One hopes the 450-metre visual range limitation doesn’t apply to them.
The innovative, unmanned. remotely operated aircraft have taken the world by storm. The Americans and Chinese are far ahead, and are thinking of using them to drop off passengers at airports, avoiding crowded city traffic. Drones could one day rush patients to hospitals like air ambulances; only they are so compact as to help thousands rather than just the elite. The restrictions on no-fly spaces around airports and such other security-dictated norms are understandable. Drones for offensive military uses as perfected by the United States are, however, not a top priority for the rest of the world, which must first explore a wide range of peaceful, civilian uses for one of the wonders of modern technology.