The Maharashtrian government, along with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution have been exploring the use of drones in various government services.

The Center is a global hub for policy frameworks and a collaborator in technology. Moreover, it has been working on expanding the usage of drones in India which is currently limited to military and gaming purposes. With the announcement of Drone Policy 2.0, prospects of drones being used for commercial and industrial purposes have become very high. Thus, in the coming few years we will be able to see drones being used in security, surveillance and even product delivery.

Introduction of Drone Policy 1.0

In November 2018, a workshop was held in Maharashtra. The workshop explained the process of drone mapping in irrigation. Above all, it explained the drone technology used to get greater agricultural yield. Also, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that work in such technology will progress.

This workshop and the proposition for agricultural drones came before the release of Drone Policy 1.0. Soon, the government released the policy, outlining the rules and regulations for drones on December 1st, 2018.

When can we expect to see agricultural drones?

The first pilot project is set to be launched in winter during October-November for rabi crops. However, the project will mainly aid two districts, Latur (Marathwada) and Yavatmal (Vidarbha). This will help farmers in sowing and harvesting of crops. Lastly, the government has sought the help of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. Also, all leading agriculture universities in the state will be associated with the project. These drones will not only help survey the crops but also predict the expected harvest.

Many places are remote and manual survey is nearly impossible. So a drone can survey up to 20 km in an hour. It is estimated that one drone can survey a taluka in one day. Likewise, there are 355 talukas across 36 districts in Maharashtra. “Drones will be very useful to decide the crop pattern and pricing. Images of agricultural fields analyzed would help us ascertain the crop sown and production.” Maharashtra State Agriculture Price Commission chairman Pasha Patel said.

Drones of various sizes, ranging from 5 to 500 Kg are being tested out for product delivery. Their use in infrastructure inspection and mapping will come into play shortly. Meanwhile, the government’s current focus is to develop drone corridors and drone-related infrastructure. This would ensure that drones don’t prove to be hazardous or fatal in crowded areas. With the help of Digital Sky, they aim to track and efficiently use drones for agricultural purposes.

With drones being implemented into industries, drone taxis might be the future. Such a feat has been achieved in countries like the UAE and China. This would immensely help traffic management and transportation in congested cities like Delhi. Drones might also be the answer to Delhi’s pollution crisis.