Simon Johnson, the vice-president of Drone Industry Association Switzerland (DIAS), shares his views with Sujith Nair on India’s new drone policy; why Switzerland is described as the “Home of Drones” and the future prospects of the drone industry.
He feels India would be surprised by the swift adoption of drone racing and gaming. It involves participants racing their drones through a set course, wearing head-mounted display, using live feed from a camera fitted on the drones.
Your thoughts on the drone policy recently announced by India
This is a very good move. A certain category of drones need to be regulated, like road vehicles. Depending on who, how and where they are used, rules must be adapted. This new category, between recreational and certified drones, is called Specific. The benefits are – much lower cost to acquire, operate and maintain than traditional, manned aviation. Road users need different vehicle permits, driver licences, insurance and equipment depending on their vehicle and type of road they want to access. The same will be true for drone operators and airspace – a natural resource and a transport infrastructure.
Since flying drones will be legal, under restrictions like the West, how big is the market for this technology here?
I am not familiar with the Indian market, but, one can assume that surveyors, inspectors, farmers, natural resource managers, media and Bollywood will be big users of professional drones for aerial imaging. Initially, delivery and taxi drones will stay marginal. A fast adoption of drone racing and gaming, an extension of e-games, will surprise us.