This flying bus can’t be missed

Last week, something exciting happened that many missed. India now has a more liberal and less fearful set of rules and regulations that will govern the use of drones 
(Express Illustrations: Amit Bandre)
(Express Illustrations: Amit Bandre)

Your next pizza might get delivered by a drone. And the next gruesome crime in our lives could get solved by a quick and efficient process of drone policing at the spot of crime.

There is an exciting future in drones and what they can do. The drone is really an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that competes for airspace to do a lot more than we do through it today. In many ways it is the last frontier, as we have used the land and the sea and our waterways to the optimal point to fulfil our various needs, wants, desires and aspirations. The air and its potential is yet to be conquered.

Six days ago, an exciting new thing happened in the Indian context. The Ministry of Civil Aviation notified the Liberalised Drone Rules, 2021. The Press Information Bureau, Government of India, put this out promptly, as it normally does. Many missed it possibly. As if anticipating that, PM Narendra Modi tweeted that it would be a landmark move that would open up possibilities for innovation and business, with a wish to see India as a drone hub of the future.

I am excited. India now has a more liberal and less fearful set of rules and regulations that will govern the use of drones. That’s refreshing. The sad fact has been that most rules that define the use of common airspace, globally, operate in an environment of fear. What if this is misused? What if all the negative things you can do with a drone overtake all the positives? What if a terror group gets hold of it? The real point is that fear of misuse must never stop use. Fear cannot dictate the future.

In many ways India’s new sets of rules and regulations that govern drones represent a fresh way of thinking. Out here, fear does not define the agenda. Instead, it is the picture of the great big business application opportunity out there to capture, which defines India’s future steps in this space. As for the fear factor, there are controls built in to take care of that.

Can India then be the great big drone hub for the region? I think it can, provided we take the right steps, quick and fast, with drone liberalism as the tone, tenor and mantra of growth.

What is a drone then? Many things really. Just like the internet, RFID and the GPS as pieces of technology in our contemporary consumer lives today, drone tech also started with military use and applications. And just as the internet and GPS is something every business uses across the world today as a key facilitator of the tech life we take so much for granted, drones hold the same potential in the years ahead.

The drone is a facilitator. A key enabler that will disrupt businesses in the very near future ahead. And it comes in all sizes. The smallest could be as small as half a house sparrow and the largest could have a wingspan that is 140 feet, wing-to-wing, literally as large as a modern jetliner.

And it does many different things. We have seen many flying about at wedding ‘sangeets’ and ‘baraats’ in India, capturing the aerial view none of us ever get to see. We have seen it in our movies, as the camera takes a cinematic top-view and very quickly cascades into a close-up of the face of Samantha Akkineni lounging around. And then we have seen the hobbyist flying around a drone as a toy in our gated enclaves. This has been our use of drone as play. Time to discover the real-play then. The business-play for drones ahead.

I do believe that the drone is the next disruptor of business as we know it. Every business, whether it is big or small, will need to have a drone-play woven into it in the future. The drone will become a key facilitator, as the power of automation in reach, delivery and tracking terms grows exponentially. Drones will bring in savings in terms of both time and money. Drones will reach those parts of the country that we have always found difficult to reach. And to that extent, the drone is going to make geography history. 

Imagine the potential of the new era of business ahead of us. A bank employee posted at Mayyadi village near Byndoor in Karnataka will be able to get onto Instagram (thanks to the access due to internet technology and thanks to the application, that is again a gift of new technology in our lives), 
order a Ghevar from Jodhpur Mishthan Bhandar in Jaipur through a D2C (Direct to consumer) interaction, and get it delivered from their local hub via a drone delivery at doorstep!

With drone technology to be rolled out, nothing is distant in the future. Nothing inaccessible. Nothing too far to get. Drones in the near future will bring us our medicines and possibly every e-commerce order for delivery at rooftop, if not doorstep. Drones will be used in the real estate industry, as much as it will in the industry of surveillance, the industry of search and rescue, the industry of industrial inspection and project progress. Expect them in agri surveys, underwater inspections, and in mapping and survey, as in literally every industry interface there is to crack.

The drone is today a $15.6 billion market with a CAGR of 57.5% projected for the next five years. Expect this to cascade exponentially as everyone discovers a new ‘d’ in their business. Just as we have “tech” as a suffix in most businesses today, ‘Edtech’, ‘Agritech’ and all the other techs to quote, time to prepare for a “d’ prefix for every business. ‘dJournalism’, ‘dPolice’, ‘dAgriculture’, ‘dSearch’, ‘dRealEstate’, and “d” before every business there is!

Every business is a drone-potential business then. In the beginning it is an investment and an expense. In the middle it is a saving. And at the end of it all, it is automation tech that fills in all the gaps that could not be filled till now.

Time to do a quick audit of your business and decide a drone roadmap ahead. This flying bus can’t be missed. Let’s fly with it.

Harish Bijoor
Brand Guru & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults


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