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Robot deliveries, drone e-commerce in for huge push as Center lifts restrictions on mapping

The new regulations announced on Monday will allow Indian companies a free hand to survey and create next-generation maps.

Anand Kumar Patel | February 16, 2021 | Updated 16:18 IST
Robot deliveries, drone e-comm in for huge push as Center lifts restrictions on mapping (Image credit: Unsplash)

Gen-next technologies like robot delivery systems, drone-based e-commerce and 3D street view are set to get a huge push in India with Center lifting restrictions in mapping. The new regulations announced on Monday will allow Indian companies a free hand to survey and create next-generation maps. Experts feel that the Modi Government's policy shift will revolutionize Geospatial technologies like GPS (global positioning system), GIS (geographical information systems) and RS (remote sensing) in India.

As India struggled with supply-chain disruptions during pandemic affected lockdown last year, videos of robots delivering goods in New York City streets went viral on the internet. The owners, Starship, celebrated 1 million deliveries in February this year.

Experts believe similar experiments in eCommerce involving AI-backed robot tech-based delivery systems will become possible in India soon with Center announcing reforms for mapping and surveying. The Department of Science and Technology announced sweeping changes to India's mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies on February 15. Prime Minister Narendra Tweeted that the start-ups and entrepreneurs in customer tech/e-commerce sector can build their own maps, decision support systems and improve location-based services.

The policy shift comes three years after Modi Government rejected Google's street view project. Iconic heritage buildings like Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and Humayun's Tomb were mapped under Google's street view project before it shut shop in 2018. But Monday's decision could see the return of Google Street View car which had become an object of curiosity on Indian streets. Today, maps and street view generated with the help of Google Street View car is helping people reconnect even with their deceased ones.

Drones for surveying and mapping is another hitherto hugely under-explored area in India. Start-up's teaming up with foreign-based tech entities for higher resolution mapping will revolutionize the e-commerce and open up new avenues for tie-ups between the private sector and Government for urban planning projects like smart cities, metros etc. Farmers too, could benefit from accurate spatial data using advance surveying tech. So, crop insurance companies declining claims of crop damage due to insufficient data may soon become a thing of past.

Cyber Law expert Prasanth Sugathan at Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) believes spatial data reforms come with endless possibilities. 'Apart from propriety tech like Google Street View, the reforms will also help community efforts like the Open Street Map project,' he told India Today TV. 'We will need to wait and watch whether there will be restrictions on sharing and storing data with non-profit entities based abroad for collaborative projects,' he further added.

Also read: | ISRO and MapmyIndia collaborate to bring India made rival to Google Maps

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