Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given its nod to Zomato, Swiggy, Google-backed Dunzo and others to start testing beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones for delivery.
There are a total of 13 companies, including SpiceJet, Nandan Nilekani-backed ShopX, Reliance-backed drone startup Asteria Aerospace that have received approval from DGCA to test drones. In May, Spicejet's cargo arm SpiceXpress received formal approval from the aviation regulator to conduct drone trials.
The drone trials will begin in the first week of July. The companies need to clock at least 100 hours of flight time in airspace designated by the Airports Authority of India, by September 30. The logs will need to be submitted to the DGCA in order to frame a policy that will allow long-range and autonomous drone operations, needed for drone-based deliveries. Under current laws, India allows drones to fly only within visual line of sight of an operator, limiting their use largely to surveillance.
India announced its plans to allow experimental long-range drone flights last year. Zomato had successfully completed its test delivery using drones in 2019. Its drone carried a payload of 5 kg covered 5 kms in 10 minutes.