Drones in South Africa Opportunity or Opportunistic

drone-1142182_1920.jpgWe live in a world of short attention spans, snap decisions and a universally increased propensity for instant gratification. Which is why drone delivery of commercial goods have captured our imaginations with its promise of novelty, quick satisfaction, flexibility and personal attention.

Also known as UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), drones have been touted as a marketing gimmick, with South Africans loving the fun aspect. Delivery of beers to the Oppikoppi festival as ‘manna’ is highly appealing to the festival revellers. So is receiving your hot pizza via a drone, or Valentines flowers from your amore, or even your plate of food inside a restaurant. The novelty factor is undeniable. And the aerial coverage and views of media and sporting events hold great benefits to the TV viewer.

Take the application to a deeper level, and the possible applications for delivering life-saving medicines into rural or cut-off disaster struck areas are numerous. Drones could become instrumental in anti-poaching and anti-crime efforts. Practical commercial and industrial applications such as terrain mapping, town planning, vehicle tracking, security, crime fighting and aerial photography for the property industry are numerous. Drones can come in any size, some as small as bottle tops.

Drones, or UAV’s are not new, and have been used by the military for stealth operations since the 1950’s. But with all these new, positive ideas and applications, come the possibility of far more sinister ones, such as the transport of weapons, illegal drugs, unlawful spying and dangerous theft of drone cargo by shooting the drone down.

So, what are the rules? South Africa has been ahead of the curve with this, with the South African Civil Aviation Authority issuing regulations in 2015 on banning the use of drones within 50m of people or buildings. In order to operate a drone in SA, you need a CAA approved and valid remote pilots licence, as well as letter of approval to fly the drone, valid for 12 months. The drone cannot be flown more than 120m off the ground or within 10km of an aerodrome, nor can they be flown adjacent to or above a nuclear power plant, prison, crime scene, police station, court of law or national key point. Visual contact must be maintained, so you cannot therefore fly the drone in bad weather conditions. For full details of the regulations you can visit www.caa.co.za.

From a global perspective, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is set to introduce international policy by 2028, and thereafter consensus will need to be achieved. Is this fast enough?

Drones or UAV’s are set to become very important for Africa, the continent predicted to become the biggest commercial UAV operator and consumer, with South Africa as the hub. Google bought 15 UAV firms as part of a project to roll out WiFi across Africa, using heavy duty drones.

So, with the legalities being wrestled over, how could drones affect your business, and increase your productivity, supply chain, logistics and overall success? Worth a thought!

Have an opinion? Why not come and share it with us at Tech-Pro, and at the same time, you can make sure your career is heading in the right direction, or nab that top-notch candidate you need to ensure your business ‘takes flight’!

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