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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

India Bans Drones

India Today reports:

India is one the few places on the planet where civilian drones can be legally used. That said, with many commercial organisations planning to use drones, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced that till proper rules and regulations are formulated use of drones in India is illegal . . . .
India Today and BGR are reporting that this ban extends to "civilian drones." But the ban is far broader, according to this public notice from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The notice states:
DGCA is in the process of formulating the regulations (and globally harmonize those) for certification & operation for use of [unmanned aircraft systems, or] UAS in the Indian Civil Airspace. Till such regulations are issued, no non government agency, organization, or an individual will launch a UAS in Indian Civil Airspace for any purpose whatsoever.
This prohibition on drones is notably broad -- it restricts hobbyist drones, commercial drones, and government drones.

This spells problems for Amazon, which had been planning to use India's (formerly) permissive regulatory environment to test drone-based package delivery services. I have not seen any reactions by the company to this sudden, universal prohibition of drone use. But I suspect Amazon will be carrying out its drone testing somewhere else in light of this ban.

Drones raise safety and privacy concerns. To an extent, these concerns are warranted, and governments may be correct to impose regulations that address privacy and safety concerns. But effective regulations should allow for the continued use of this developing technology. India's sudden and complete ban on drones is far too broad, and will hinder the development of drone technology and the economic opportunities that this technology can (and was about to) create.

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