The future of drones in India; Sai Pattabiram thinks Sky`s the limit

In Opinions

On 7th October 2014 DGCA issued a notification banning the use of drones by civilians in India despite which today the population of drones in India is an estimated 5 lacs . Barring the legality of these drones the sheer volume of drones in India today is a testimony to the potential of drone use in India . The average addition in excess of 1 lac drones per year across India is a staggering figure in term of Illegal Imports . In Rupee terms it translates to around Rs 5,000 crores in term of money spend on drones between 2014 – 2018 and a revenue loss to the exchequer of around Rs 1000 crores over the same period . These numbers are truly astounding for an Industry that is both illegal and unregulated .

These figures on their own are testimony to the fact that the SKY IS THE LIMIT as far as the drone Industry in India is concerned especially with the release of the Drone Regulations of 27/8/2018 which shall be effective from 1/12/2018 .

Thanks to the sheer volume and the lack of credible options the word drone itself today brings to mind the picture of the White Coloured DJI Phantom which really is a very limited vision of the world of drones .

Just like any the Manned Aircraft industry that we are all are aware of there are two major types of aircraft Helicopters and Planes that have completely different types of applications . The planes cover large distances and areas with ease while the Helis are used for high precision applications requiring pin point accuracy.

Most people can’t even visualize the existence of the Plane type of Drones called fixed wing Drone . The potential for fixed wing drones like manned planes is as yet practically unexploited due to the lack of a low cost globally available alternative .

People have used the copter for practically every conceivable application including mapping of large areas like mines , highway projects apart from events and marriages for which they are ideally suited . The flight characteristics of the copter really limit their use for higher end enterprise use like Mapping and Surveying .

The Fixed wing drones or plane type drones like the Sense Fly Ebee and the likes truly come into their element when it comes to large area mapping , Infrastructure project surveying , Pipeline Surveillance and similar applications. These drones despite their efficiency in area coverage have achieved limited success by way of market traction primarily on account of their high prices .

ZUPPA drones completed India’s largest Mine Mapping assignment for a client in Chhattisgarh during the second half of 2017 covering around 15,000 acres . The Data ( Image ) Acquisition for this project was completed in less than a week and processed output was delivered to the client within one month . The same survey by traditional means like DGPS survey would have normally taken 6-8 months and would have been practically impossible with any of the DJI copters .

Fixed wing drones truly come into their element when large distances and areas are involved . Typical applications where Fixed wing drones would add significant value would be

  • Agricultural Crop Insurance
  • Mapping and surveying for Mines thru 3 D mapping .
  • Infrastructural Projects Survey and Mapping involving pre construction corridor mapping Highways , Railways , Power Lines etc
  • BIM Surveys for Remote Digital Monitoring of projects
  • Automated Digital Surveillance of Cross Country Oil and Gas Pipelines
  • Forest Surveys and Surveillance
  • Border Surveillance for Defence & Civil Defence
  • Large Area Search and rescue in case of Natural Calamities
  • Water Shed Project Monitoring for organizations like NABARD

These are but the TIP of the Proverbial Iceberg as far as fixed wing drone applications are concerned.

Thanks to the release of Drone regulations Indian Company’s in this cutting edge technology space can now move into being mainstream businesses from being fringe operators with questionable business credentials .

The Drone Regulations opens the doors for India’s only Drone Manufacturer ZUPPA to take a BIG leap forward by developing and launching an economical large area fixed wing mapping drone to Rival DJI’s Copters . Preparations are already under way at ZUPPA to Unveil its MADE IN INDIA large area Fixed wing Mapping Drone at Aero India 2019 to cater to a huge Global Market Potential .

Drone use as we know it today much like the Early MS DOS days of personal computing it is just the beginning and has a long way to go and mature to be a SMART PHONE is the best way to describe and visualize the statement “ Sky is the limit – The future of drones in India “.

(The author is the founder and CEO of Shree Sai Aerotech Innovations Pvt Ltd and ZUPPA, ‘the only made in India’ drone)

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