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Centre Says Private Players Can Use Drones for Delivery Purposes Under Drone Rules 2021

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By ANI | Updated: 2 August 2022

Private players are free to use drones for delivery purposes subject to compliance with Drone Rules, 2021, informed Minister of State for Civil Aviation General VK Singh (Retd) in Rajya Sabha on Monday. According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in a written reply to a question asked about drone services for private players in Rajya Sabha, Singh said, “Drones offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy. These include agriculture, vaccine delivery, surveillance, search and rescue, transportation, mapping, defence and law enforcement to name a few.”

“The Government is utilising services of drone service providers for vaccine delivery, inspection of oil pipelines and power transmission lines, anti-locust operations, agricultural spraying, the survey of mines, land mapping under SVAMITVA scheme for issuance of digital property cards, etc. Many of these have been in remote areas of the country. Private players are free to use drones for delivery purposes subject to compliance with Drone Rules, 2021,” he said.

The Union Minister further said that last year in September the Government notified the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to promote the growth of drone manufacturing by private companies.

“The scheme provides for an incentive of Rs 120 crores, spread over three financial years. The PLI rate is 20 percent of the value addition over three financial years. PLI for a manufacturer shall be capped at 25 percent of the total annual outlay. A provisional list of 23 PLI beneficiaries was released on July 6, 2022. The beneficiaries include 12 manufacturers of drones and 11 manufacturers of drone components,” Singh said.

He said that the Drones Rules, 2021 notified on August 25, 2021, provide the necessary regulatory framework for the commercial use of drones. These rules cover various aspects like type certification, registration and operation of drones, airspace restrictions, research, development and testing of drones, training and licensing, offences and penalties etc.

The key aspects of the regulatory framework under Drones Rules, 2021:

  1. Every drone, except for those meant for research, development and testing purposes, is required to be registered and should have a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
  2.  An airspace map of the country segregating the entire airspace into red, yellow and green zones is available on the digital sky platform. The operation of drones in red and yellow zones is subject to the approval of the Central Government and the concerned Air Traffic Control (ATC) authority respectively. No approval is required for the operation of drones in green zones.
  3. The State Government, the Union Territory Administration and Law enforcement agencies have been empowered under the Rules to declare a temporary red zone for a specified period.
  4. Drones are required to have the necessary type certification issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). No type certification is however required in the case of nano drones (up to 250 gram all-up weight) and model drones made for research and recreation purposes.
  5. The owner and operators of drones are required to furnish the necessary personal details including their Indian passport number etc. for issuance of any registration or licence.
  6. Rule 17 of the Drone Rules, 2021, lays down the provision of transfer of a drone to another person by way of sale, lease, gift or any other mode, after providing requisite details of the transferor, transferee and unique identification number of the drone on the digital sky platform along with the applicable fees.
  7. Authorisation of Remote Pilot Training Organisations (RPTO) will be done by DGCA within specified time limits.
  8. Drone operations that violate the provisions of the Drone Rules, 2021 are punishable under Rule 49 of the Drone Rules, 2021 as well as provisions of any other law, for the time being in force.

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Gujarat Government Announces ‘Drone Promotion and Usage Policy’, Seeks to Create Employment

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 By Press Trust of India | Updated: 11 August 2022

The Gujarat government on Wednesday unveiled a new policy for state departments and organisations to promote the use of drones for operations and delivery of services to beneficiaries and said it seeks to create 25,000 employment opportunities and attract investment. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel unveiled the “Drone Promotion and Usage Policy” at a function in the state capital Gandhinagar.

The policy aims to create a “vibrant drone ecosystem, including manufacturing and innovation, by promoting the use of drones for service delivery” and make various public services “more effective, popular, efficient and faster with the use of advanced technology,” stated a government release.

It also aims to create 25,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities and attract investment for development, operation and maintenance of drone services ecosystem in the state, it said.

Valid for a period of five years, the policy will allow state government departments to play a catalyst role to encourage commercial use of drones (remotely controlled unmanned aerial vehicles).

As per the policy, within six months, various state government departments, public sector undertakings (PSUs), boards and organisations will formulate schemes and programmes to promote use of drones in their respective domains.

For its implementation, an empowered monitoring committee of eight senior secretaries will be formed under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department. The committee will meet periodically and monitor the initiatives taken by various departments and PSUs for drone promotion and usage.

“Private and public investment in areas like research and development-innovation-manufacturing-testing-training and safety regulation will be encouraged for widespread use of drones in the state through innovative methods,” the release stated.

As per the policy, the user departments will provide preferences to startups, Make In India companies and MSMEs (micro, small & medium enterprises) as per procurement norms of the Government of Gujarat.

It will also promote setting up of training infrastructure to improve availability of qualified manpower in the state and incentivise startups and other drone manufacturing units.

The policy also aims to mitigate risks and meet safety challenges by specifying prohibited (no-fly zone), restricted and open areas by deployment of “drone traffic police,” the release said.

The proposed drone usage by various departments has been noted in the policy. For example, the home department will use drones in crowd management, for maintaining vigil at vital installations, VVIP, border and coastal security and disaster management, among other areas.

The agriculture department will use it for spraying pesticides, fertilisers, sowing of seeds, and monitoring soil quality. For the industries and mining department, it would be for surveillance of mining areas and mineral blocks and leases.

For the health and family welfare department, drones will be deployed for delivery of medical supplies and blood, while for the forest department the remotely controlled unmanned aircraft will be used for lion census and tracking of wildlife, among other activities.

Some of the departments have already started using drones.

They were extensively used to keep strict vigil during the recent Rath Yatra by the home department. The industries and mines department has launched ‘Trinetra’ drones to control illegal mining.

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Yangtze Memory Technologies, Micron, NAND chips, SK Hynix, Samsung Electronics, Intel

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 By Press Trust of India | Updated: 1 August 2022

The government has undertaken a series of reform measures to make India a global drone hub by 2030, Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Giving a written reply to a query raised by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Narhari Amin, the Minister further said some of the reform measures taken up by the government in this direction include the step to notify Liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 on August 25 last year.

Drone Airspace Map was published on September 24 last year, opening up nearly 90 percent of Indian airspace as a green zone for drones flying up to 400 feet, said Singh.

“Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones was also notified on September 30 last year as well as UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Policy Framework was published on October 24 last year,” said the Minister.

A monetary grant programme for the purchase of agricultural drones was announced by the Union Agriculture Ministry on January 22 this year, and all application forms under Drone Rules, 2021 were also made online on the Digital Sky Platform on January 26.

Singh said that the drone certification scheme was notified on January 26 this year and the mission “Drone Shakti” was also announced for supporting drone startups and promoting Drone-as-a-Service (DrAAS) as part of the Union Budget on February 1.

Besides, the drone import policy was notified on February 9, banning the import of foreign drones and freeing up the import of drone components.

He further mentioned that Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022 was notified on February 11, abolishing the requirement of a drone pilot licence. Now a remote pilot certificate is issued by a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) authorised Remote Pilot Training Organisations (RPTO) which is adequate for the remote pilot to operate drones.

Giving details of the Drones Rules, 2021 notified on August 25 last year, the Minister said it provides the necessary regulatory framework for the civilian or commercial use of drones.

These rules cover various aspects like type certification, registration and operation of drones, airspace restrictions, research, development and testing of drones, training and licensing, offences and penalties, said Singh.

Given salient features of the Drones Rules, 2021, the Minister said every drone, except for those meant for research, development and testing purposes, is required to be registered and should have a Unique Identification Number (UIN).

“An airspace map of the country segregating the entire airspace into red, yellow and green zones is available on the digital sky platform. The operation of drones in red and yellow zones is subject to the approval of the Central Government and the concerned Air Traffic Control (ATC) authority respectively. No approval is required for the operation of drones in green zones,” the Ministry said.

He said drones are required to have the necessary type certification issued by the DGCA, and that no type certification is however required in case of nano drones (up to 250 gram all-up weight) and model drones made for research and recreation purposes.

The Minister said the owner and operators of drones are required to furnish the necessary personal details including their Indian passport number for issuance of any registration or licence.

“Authorisation of RPTO will be done by DGCA within specified time limits,” said Singh.

As of July 20, there were 27 RPTOs authorised by DGCA. Of these, three RPTOs are located in Gujarat– Blue Ray Aviation, Kaushalya- The Skill University and Sanskardham Drone Academy.

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Syngenta Starts 10,000km ‘Drone Yatra’ Across 13 States to Educate Farmers on Spraying Pesticides With Drones

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 15 July 2022

Swiss agrochemical major Syngenta on Friday started a ‘drone yatra’ of 10,000 km in India to educate farmers on pesticide spraying using drones across 13 states in the next three months. The company also announced the world’s first biodiversity sensor technology, developed in partnership with IIT Ropar in Punjab and Fraunhofer Institute of Germany to measure biodiversity in Agri landscapes and suggest farmers on cultivating appropriate crops.

This sensor will be tested in farmers’ fields in Europe and India this year.

Digital technologies are going to be the next big driver of agriculture.

By the end of this month, the company said it is also planning to launch the Grower app in India to empower small holding farmers by giving them digital agronomy advice on nine crops — including cotton, wheat, vegetables, rice and maize — in multiple languages.

Syngenta India Country Head and Managing Director Susheel Kumar and Syngenta Group Chief Information and Digital Officer Feroz Sheikh — announced the new initiatives here.

“The drone yatra aims to create awareness about the use of drones in agriculture. A van will be deployed that will travel across the country covering 10,000 km reaching out to 10,000 farmers,” Kumar said after flagging off the Drone Yatra. The van will kick start from Maharashtra and travel to Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, he said.

The commercial launch of the drones for pesticide spraying will be done later this month in three crops — rice, cotton and soybean, he added.

Syngenta is the first private firm that has received approval from Central Insecticide Board (CIB) to use drones for spraying its crop protection product ‘Amistar’ on paddy to protect the crops against fungal infections — Blast and Sheath Blight.

Till last year, the government was allowing drones in agriculture one by one after the submission of data. However, early this year, it started giving ad hoc permission for two years for spraying any molecules except herbicides.

Syngenta has already tested the efficacy of drones, Kumar said, adding that the awareness drive through Drone Yatra will not only educate farmers about the new technology but also help the company to take feedback and inputs from farmers and based on that improvise drone spray services in future.

Further advanced features in drones like precision application will be brought in future, Sheikh said, adding that “we are working on taking measurements of soil inch by inch and predict where weeds are placed and spray herbicides accordingly”.

Besides drones, Sheikh said, the company has developed biodiversity sensor technology in partnership with the IIT Ropar, Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, and some start-ups. There is no objective data available at present in the world on biodiversity status in agricultural landscapes.

“There is no data available objectively on how much is biodiversity i.e. different species like butterflies and insects in farmland and how can we help to improve biodiversity in a particular region. From a sustainability perspective, we decided to fill the gap of data,” he said.

The sensors, which will measure the biodiversity in agri-landscapes using AI, have already been tested and validated the accuracy of algorithms. Now, it will be tested in farmers’ fields in all of Europe and India before making it an open resource, Sheikh told PTI. “We are now starting the process of putting the sensors out in the field to see if it is working well enough and then take a decision to make is open,” he said, adding this technology has been developed to solve the problem for the greater good and the company has decided to open the data and code of this application.

Syngenta will manufacture and deploy 50 sensors this year. Out of which, about a dozen or so will be deployed by the end of this year, Sheikh said.

“The reason to make the data open is that Syngenta needs to manufacture sensors for everybody and other companies manufacturing hardware can take the blueprint and manufacture sensors,” he added.

Outlining other India-centric innovations, Syngenta India Country Head and Managing Director Susheel Kumar announced it will launch a ‘Grower App’ for free to farmers by July end.

Grower App aims to give digital agronomy advice for nine crops, including cotton, wheat, vegetables, rice and maize in multiple languages. It is a unique app, which digitally empowers smallholders, he said.

The app is built using the ‘Cropwise technology platform, and tailored to India, Sheikh said, adding “with that, we are bringing our global innovation in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to create benefits for the Indian farmers. Our target is to reach 2,50,000 farmers this year and next year one million farmers”.

According to Syngenta, the app is working on including satellite imagery for the identification of crop stress, a stress indicator model as every crop needs a particular weather requirement at its different crop growth stages.

Apart from biodiversity sensors, IIT Ropar Associate Dean (R&D) Pushpendra Ropa said the institute has also developed a device to record ambient temperature called ‘Ambitech’ that can help keep the log of temperature in cold chain logistics, especially perishable commodities like dairy and meat.

It has received certification for Ambitech and will be priced at Rs 230 for the Indian market. It is a passive device that helps record ambient temperature of minus 40 to 80 degrees Celsius, he said.

IIT Ropar is also working on a ‘Livestock Monitoring Device’ in partnership with Syngenta.

Syngenta, which is currently owned by Chinese state-owned enterprise ChemChina, has been investing $1.4 billion (roughly Rs. 11,200 crore) a year in R&D, and about 6,500 employees working in R&D globally.

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Amazon’s Ring Unit Gave Police Data Without User Consent 11 Times in 2022, US Lawmaker Says

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By Reuters | Updated: 14 July 2022

Amazon.com’s Ring doorbell unit, which makes videos of the outside of an owner’s home, gave footage to law enforcement without the user’s consent 11 times so far this year, the company said.

Amazon said it provided the video under emergency circumstances. Senator Edward Markey, a lawmaker interested in privacy, on Wednesday released a letter from Amazon on the topic that was a response to his enquiry to the company.

“In each instance, Ring made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of information without delay,” wrote Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy for Amazon.

The company also said that it had 2,161 law enforcement agencies on its Neighbors Public Safety Service, which allows police and others to ask Ring owners for footage.

“Increasing law enforcement reliance on private surveillance creates a crisis of accountability,” Markey said in a statement.

Amazon’s Ring said in a statement that it followed the law.

“The law authorises companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay,” the company said in a statement.

In the letter, Huseman declined to specify when Ring technology can capture audio and how sensitive the audio recordings are. Users can easily disable audio.

He also declined to pledge to make end-to-end encryption the default for Ring data. End-to-end encryption is available although it would disable some features.

Markey said that he was concerned that Amazon and other tech companies would begin using biometric data in their systems and noted that he and others had introduced a bill aimed at restricting law enforcement access to such information.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Aviation Ministry Grants First Type Certificate Under the New Drone Rules to IoTechWorld Avigation

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 14 June 2022

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday granted the first type certificate under the new drone rules, which was issued on August 25 last year, to IoTechWorld Avigation. “Under the Drone Rules 2021, a type certificate is issued for specific type of unmanned aircraft system (drone) by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the recommendation of the Quality Council of India (QCI) or an authorised testing entity,” the aviation ministry said on Twitter.

Drone manufacturers are free to approach any certification body approved by the QCI for their type certificate test reports, it mentioned.

The aviation ministry, the DGCA, certification bodies and industry bodies are working closely to help applicants in their certification process, it noted.

“Suggestions in the certification scheme are welcome and will be included, without compromising on safeguards related to quality, safety and national security,” it said.

“Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia awarded the first type certificate under Drone Rules, 2021, to Anoop Upadhyay, Director and Co-founder, IoTechWorld Avigation Pvt Ltd today in presence of senior officials from the aviation ministry, the DGCA, the Airports Authority of India, QCI etc,” it mentioned.

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