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Use of Drones Technology

  • 07 Jan 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Drone Rules 2021, Application of Drone Technology, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

For Mains: Uses, challenges and way forward for drone technology.

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has suggested to the other Ministries to promote effective use of Drone technology.

  • This suggestion was made as part of the initiatives to make India a global hub for drones under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and in the backdrop of the Union Government rolling out the liberalised Drone Rules 2021.
  • Drones offer tremendous benefits to almost every sector of the economy, national defence, agriculture, law enforcement, and mapping, among others.

Key Points

  • About Drones:
    • It is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).
    • Originally developed for the military and aerospace industries, drones have found their way into the mainstream because of the enhanced levels of safety and efficiency they bring.
    • A drone’s autonomy level can range from remotely piloted (a human controls its movements) to advanced autonomy, which means that it relies on a system of sensors and LIDAR detectors to calculate its movement.
  • Application of Drone Technology:
    • Defence: Drone system can be used as a symmetric weapon against terrorist attacks.
      • Drones can be integrated into the national airspace system.
      • Deployment of drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions can be done.
    • Healthcare Delivery Purposes: Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved a project with the Telangana government for using drone technology to deliver vaccines in remote areas.
    • Agriculture: In the agriculture sector, micronutrients can be spread with the help of drones.
      • It can also be used for performing surveys for identifying the challenges faced by the farmers.
    • Monitoring: The drone technology in the SVAMITVA scheme launched by the Government of India, within less than a year, has helped about half a million village residents to get their property cards by mapping out the abadi areas.
      • Drones can be used for real-time surveillance of assets and transmission lines, theft prevention, visual inspection/maintenance, construction planning and management, etc
      • They can be used for anti-poaching actions, monitoring of forests and wildlife, pollution assessment, and evidence gathering.
    • Law Enforcement: Drones are also significant for the law enforcement agencies, the fire and emergency services wherever human intervention is not safe and the healthcare services.
  • Associated Issues:
    • Increased Risk of Armed Attacks: Operation of drones without any adequate legal backing can pose several security threats.
      • Incidents of arms being dropped by drones are also there such as the recent Jammu drone attacks.
      • They can be put to destructive use, to slam into critical targets, destroy infrastructure and so on.
    • Paramilitary Not Exempted from the Rules: The drone rules 2021 are not applicable to the army, navy or the airforce.
      • However, it still includes paramilitary forces. BSF is suffering a lot of issues due to the drones coming across the lines.
    • Cheaper Cost Enables a Larger Population to Procure Drones: Drones are relatively cheaper in comparison to conventional weapons and yet can achieve far more destructive results which is the primary reason for increased number of drone attacks.
    • Delivery of Mass Destruction Weapons: What makes combat drones most dangerous is the threat of them being used to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
      • Procurement of combat drones by non-state actors poses serious threats.

Way Forward

  • Training Programs: There has to be training programs for drone pilots. The drone technology alone will not be enough, there have to be a few more aspects to take care of for using the technology to its fullest.
  • Balancing Security and Benefits: There is a need to ensure that the guidelines are in such a manner that the security concerns are not at all compromised but the drone technology is also used to the maximum of its advantages.
  • Developing Anti-Drone System: The DRDO has started developing an anti-drone system, one is already in place. There are soft kill and hard kill options available.
    • Soft kill options include jamming the drone.
    • Hard kill options include the laser technology, missiles or other drones to shoot down the drone.
  • Increasing Investments: India needs to invest in its own Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems and counter-drone technology to detect and track threats, especially around critical assets.

Source: TH

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