Top India drone companies to watch in 2017
India, long known for its prowess in software, may become a world leader in drone enhancements more through software rather than hardware, but the young manufacturing industry is showing good signs of growth. Like Japan, India companies seem to be focusing on development of all purpose business and enterprise level drones because China has a lock on the hobby/consumer drone manufacturing.
In 2014 a pizza shop in busy Mumbai showed what the future may hold in a test run for package delivery … Although the video went massively viral, brought questions from the local police whether the flight was approved, and seemed more of a PR stunt it brought attention to the possibilities that drones can offer.
Now jump forward a few years and the UAV ecosystem is witnessing potentially revolutionary innovations on an almost daily basis is because drones can boost efficiencies across a variety of sectors, from agricultural operations and surveillance to film making and disaster management, drones have quickly proliferated into every aspect of people lives and several Indian tech startups are also looking to get in on the act.
India Drone Market
From Security Watch India (June 2016),
The demand for quadcopters has been high among the state police forces. Moreover, apart from the law enforcement agencies, the National Disaster Response Force or the NDRF has been using drones during natural disasters to locate victims and trapped people. Additionally, application of drones has now found favors with Indian Railways and PSUs like Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) as well. The Indian Railways, with one of the largest networks of rail tracks and stations across the country and with thousands of Crores of on-going rail projects, have started using drones for inspection of progress of mega projects like that of Dedicated Freight Corridor. GAIL has started using drones for surveillance of its vast network of gas transmission pipelines.
Even though there are still major restrictions on the civilian use drones and justifiably so because of possibility of misuse, the Indian market for drones is now a promising one and there is immense opportunity for Indian companies. Given India’s vast repository of electronic and software companies, it is not difficult for it to become a major hub for manufacturing of drones. While India may still rely on global companies for purchase of large UAVs and Combat drones, there is considerable potential for innovation in the market for small and mini UAVs where Indian companies can play a critical role in both making of drones as well as in data analytics of the data collected by drones.
Some of the most common applications of drones are:
1. Geographical Mapping
2. Agricultural Survey
3. Disaster Management
4. Search & Rescue
5. Flood Management
6. Border Patrol
7. Anti-Terror Operations
8. Maritime Surveillance
9. Critical Infrastructure Monitoring
10. Intelligence Gathering
Here are several drone companies to keep an eye on in 2017.
1. Edall Systems
A Bangalore-based company, Edall Systems provides engineering, design and manufacturing services, drone development, and unmanned aerial vehicle training programs for students and professionals. The company also builds parts for India’s National Aerospace Labs, as well as the Defense Research and Development Organization.
Their commercial multirotor UAV / drone the SPIDEX 600 MK1 is made for surveillance, aerial mapping and structural inspection projects.
- Some key specifications:
- Range – 3km
- Endurance – 30 min+
- Accuracy – within 3m of waypoint
- Speed – 18-36 km/hr
- Flying weight – 2.5kg
- Wind resistance – 3-4 m/s
- Can be programmed for up to 300 waypoints
ideaForge was founded by Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai alumni in 2007 and is one of the pioneers of the micro-UAV industry in India. Toward that end, in 2009 it created the world’s smallest and lightest autopilot at 10gms, along with the first indigenous micro UAV.
ideaForge offers two broad categories of products; the NETRA (VTOL) family of UAVs and SKYBOX (Fixed-Wing) family of UAVs. The UAVs can stream live video, and capture high resolution imagery for post processing and analysis. They are invaluable and notable assets for missions involving Counter Insurgency, Crowd Monitoring, Aerial Patrolling, Surveillance, Mapping, Equipment Inspection, Crop Monitoring and Large-area Monitoring and Mapping of Mines and Land.
The UAVs have features that include a completely autonomous flight mode, which means, the vehicle flies on its own and returns on its own to the home base after completion of the mission. It has both day and night cameras to operate in daytime and pitch dark conditions. The failsafe systems ensure that it comes back home even if communication breaks down or when the battery which powers the system starts depleting. All the video coverage is saved by default and within minutes of landing, the data can be downloaded into CDs for dissemination.
Technical specs for the NETRAv2 quadcopter include an endurance range of greater than 50mins @MSL and wind resistance capability of 30kph. See the NETRAv2 Brochure (pdf) for more detailed information on this multirotor UAV.
The following is a NETRAv2 promotion video from Ideaforge.
Visit the Ideaforge website for more details.
3. Skylark Drones
Skylark Drones provides enterprise drone solutions. According to the Indian startup’s website, Skylark Drones acquires the data for you, analyses the data to reduce your effort and presents it in a way that you can utilize. Its current focus is on mining, infrastructure and utilities industries using the power of cloud-based intelligence with system-integrated UAVs for data to enhance a customer’s insight about his assets.
4. Johnnette Technologies
The startup offers a range of products for the unmanned systems industry including the above Johnnette JR5 which is a multi-rotor designed specially for heavy lift payloads. With its eight motors it is capable of lifting up to 1.5 Kg additional payload. Prime use is for the cinematographic applications. Initially developed for DRDO research projects, this UAV has more lift capacity with long range and long endurance benefiting the end user.
- Some Key Specs:
- Weight : 8.5 kg
- Range : 10 km
- Endurance : 45 mins ops
- Altitude : 400m above sea level
- Payloads : Day/Night Camera, Thermal Imaging Camera,Tarot 2d gimbal, Filming Camera
- Payload weight : 1.5 kgs maximum
- Speed : 30 kmph
Another commercial UAV is the JR3 for aerial mapping, land surveying and 3D imaging. The following video is an introduction to this multicopter.
Johnnette Technologies has also recently started a new division, Indian Institute of Drones, to train drone pilots.
5. Aarav Unmanned Systems (AUS)
According to TechInAsia, AUS is a startup that in March 2016 received investment from Aaruha Technologies, which is an early-stage technology fund started in 2015 by ex-Infosys CFOs Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan, as well as BV Naidu, the chairman of Sagitaur Ventures. Aaruha said that it was interested in AUS for three main reasons:
- It can help manage infrastructure better by surveying land
- Agricultural processes like irrigation, fertilization, and spraying pesticides can happen faster and more efficiently
- Data can be collected based on heat distribution to figure out whether power lines, solar power plans, and other large industries are working well
From the AUS website, “We are a bunch of designers, artists, developers & engineers from IIT Kanpur, IIT Bombay, IISc Bangalore & IIST building the future of Drones and their applications in enterprise space! Our Drones provide high-value engineering solutions to enterprises across GIS Surveying/Mapping, Industrial inspection & Precision agriculture.” Having both fixed-wing and multirotor designs, some key features of the multirotor drone are:
- Endurance = Upto 30 min
- Wind Limit = 50kph
- Payload = 500 gm
- Cruise speed = 5m/s
- Fully autonomous data capture
- Full-composite body
Blockchain+Drone Biz Opportunity
Another technology you may see in the future being added to services being developed in India may be blockchain. Given India’s powerful base of coding resources and software development, Canada is partnering with India in blockchain development.
There are several projects around the world looking to couple drone and blockchain technologies. Here are some examples
Check back periodically for updates as India continues to expand their use of UAV for commercial applications across the country.
If you are a UAV company in India and think you should be added to the list or are on the list and have updated information you would like for us to consider … Contact Us.
We are also seeing activity in India in agricultural crop spraying drones. Read more -> Top Agricultural Crop Spraying Drone Systems for 2017