13 companies, including delivery companies of food, cargo and surveillance, received official approval to begin drone testing Credit: File image

New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given an official nod to delivery companies like Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo, among others, to begin testing drone deliveries beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

Along with hyperlocal delivery start-ups, Reliance-backed drone start-up Asteria Aerospace and budget airline SpiceJet were among the 13 consortia that have received the approvals to test fly these drones for delivery and surveillance options. The DGCA has also provided the companies with specific airspace via which they can run these tests.

The tests which will check the unmanned vehicles either carrying payloads or survey vast areas of land will begin from July.

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Wanting to check the commercial possibilities that can be achieved via these BVLOS drones, the DGCA had already set up BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring (BEAM) committee in the first half of 2019 with a call for applicants. With various rounds of face to face meetings, scrutiny, and face to face meetings the BEAM committee selected Zomato, Swiggy, Zipline and Redwing, and Throttle Aerospace Systems for BVLOS drone experiments.

Throttle Aerospace also plans to start its testing by July in an airspace in the outskirts of Bengaluru. The company initially plans to start delivering critical items like medicines in its first phase and then subsequently move to other deliveries which will involve essentials.

The dedicated air cargo service of domestic airliner SpiceJet, SpiceXpress will also look at the delivery of cargos through these tests.

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Additionally, the consortia which received the formal letters to start the tests will have to clock a minimum of 100 hours of flight time in their respective airspace and then submit their reports to the DGCA.

These approvals came in the time when drone deliveries have been the talk of the town with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as these truly means contact less deliveries. Moreover, unlike other forms of aviation, drones are comparatively cheaper to produce. Also unlike other emerging technologies, drones do not require the state to use billions of dollars into R&D.

However, India still has a long way to go for drone deliveries to be a common sight for food deliveries but the gears are now in motion.

Also Read: Zomato pushes for alcohol delivery in India amid COVID-19 lockdown

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