Drones played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic, when social isolation and distancing was the only way to escape being infected. At the peak of the wave, several news reports pointed to how drones were being used in some of the remotest corners of India to make medicines and other health supplies available. The drone industry in India has bloomed due to its various uses in civilian, commercial, and defence sectors.
The industry has witnessed increased adoption in recent years owing to its widespread capabilities, from surveillance to simple photography, monitoring rail lines and roads, and delivering food and essential products to customers.
According to 6Wresearch, the Indian commercial drone market will grow at a CAGR of 12.4 percent between 2022 and 2031.
The industry is expected to reshape our daily lives with drones being leveraged for multiple needs. The drone industry has also received encouragement from the government, with promises of complete support and major policy changes to promote the drone startup ecosystem by banning the import of drones.
Here are some drone-tech startups that are creating waves in the industry through technology and innovation.
Founded by Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy and Mrinal Pai in 2014, Bengaluru-based drone-tech startupprovides worksite intelligence and enables accurate business decision-making using drone data.
The startup has clients across sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and renewable energy. It works with popular brands such as HINDALCO, Tata Steel, SAIL, Ultra Tech Cement, Balco, Hindustan Zinc, L & T, Reliance Infrastructure, Bosch, ReNEW Power, URS and many others.
"There is a tremendous value in the software stack or, as we call it, the drone stack of software built on top of the hardware for flight planning, mission planning in the right way, and also interface with the regulatory environment. It will help understand what has to be done with the captured data and how can it be converted into meaningful insights," Mrinal says.
In July 2021, the startup raised $3 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by InfoEdge Ventures and IAN Fund to enhance its product portfolio and expand further into the overseas market.
Founded in 2013 by Vipul Singh and Yeshwanth Reddy, Bengaluru-based Aarav Unmanned System () is a drone solution startup manufacturing industrial grade drones for use in the fields of urban planning, irrigation, mining, energy, and agriculture.
In October 2021, the startup won a contract to deploy 80 drones across four states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastahn, and Maharatra, under the Indian government's SVAMITVA scheme.
"AUS is proud and excited to have bagged this prestigious project and help fulfil the dream of the government to provide a Record of Rights to village household owners by digitalising land records. The scheme will help in creating wealth and settling disputes at the village level and create accurate land records for the current and the next," Vipul says.
AUS is backed by early-stage investors such as KARSEMVEN Fund, 3one4 Capital, 500 Durians, Ashok Atluri, Auxano Capital, GrowX Ventures, StartupXseed Ventures, among others.
The startup claims to be the first to build and deploy PPK GPS based survey-grade fully autonomous drones in India, and the first company to get certified by DGCA in small category drones.
Founded in 2015 by Vikram Singh and Anshu Abhishek, Gurugram-based drone delivery startupmanufactures high-speed, long range, heavy payload delivery drone solutions.
The drone AI startup builds end-to-end technology solutions for enabling a drone logistics airline for last-mile and mid-mile deliveries.
In June 2021, TechEagle received official approval to deliver vaccines and medicine supplies in the state of Telangana using drones in 16 green zones.
In September 2021, the startup raised $500k in a seed round led by India Accelerator and others to launch indigenous products, scale its operations in India, and hire across functions.
"Standalone in India, every year we lose millions of lives because of the non-availability of critical healthcare items like blood, platelets, plasma, anti-venom, vaccines, etc., in remote, rural, and semi urban areas. Aerial routes are shorter in comparison to roads, and our drones are super fast with reverse logistics capabilities, so the delivery of packages would be 4x faster, 2x economical, and 100 percent reliable." Vikram says.
Founded in 2019 by Rishabh Verma, Divyanshu Pundir, and Ashutosh Kumar, Bengaluru-based drone-tech startupTechnologies specialises in micro drones and enables industries to easily leverage the power of aerial data by creating compliant drone hardware, along with proprietary software solutions.
The startup aims to help sectors by integrating aerial data with their ongoing workflow to save cost and time. It provides services to companies using drones for land surveys, spraying, agriculture, and so on.
"We are in the midst of exciting times. For a long time, drone technology was limited to military applications. But now, commercial drones are rising with many industries adopting them aggressively. A time when drones will become an essential part of human civilization is much nearer than you have imagined,' says Rishabh.
In August 2021, UrbanMatrix Technology raised Rs 1.2 crore from Coimbatore-based SARA ELGI to strengthen research and development, deliver industry-oriented solutions, and deepen market penetration across verticals.
, an Ahmedabad-based drone and AI tech startup founded in 2013 by Jatin Patel, Suresh Shahdadpuri, and Anu Shahdadpuri, specialises in drone survey, inception, and survey-grade drone manufacturing.It serves a wide range of industries, from industrial to agricultural services, to defense, and much more.
Enercomp provides a combined platform of data acquisition, consultancy, and processing for sectors starting from mapping and land survey, solar PV plant survey, wind turbines, distribution lines, roads and railways, construction engineering, power engineering, slum mapping, and IT services using drones.
In September 2021, the startup raised Rs 1.5 crore in an angel round from ah1 Ventures.
Edited by Anju Narayanan