Monday, July 03, 2023

Why Drone Startups A Budding Industry In India?

Today, several fertiliser businesses are aiming to use drones extensively as a means of delivering nutrients to farmers, adding that they are also closely watching prospective areas such as healthcare and e-commerce. Domestic demand is also driven by industries such as infrastructure, urban mapping, urban planning, and rural mapping.

Recall the bird-like unmanned aerial vehicle from the movie Uri The Surgical Strike. Yes, that’s the competency of the aerial robot. One more event, when terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai in 2008, Ankit Mehta, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, thought that his little drone firm may have been valuable. There were reports that naval helicopters were trying to look into the third and fourth floors of the hotel, and the company felt that maybe their drones could have done the task, he adds.

Mr Mehta, who led the IIT’s innovation cell before graduating in 2005, created his first drone prototype in 2004 and founded a firm called ideaForge in 2007 to develop flying devices for a variety of applications. A year later, the Mumbai terror events motivated his team to develop drones for the defence services. They launched the first drone in 2009, which was transferred to the Maharashtra police in 2010. Since then, ideaForge has provided drones for surveillance and mapping to various government agencies and commercial businesses.

The business even went public to collect Rs 567 crore through an IPO. The IPO was supposed to finish on June 29 but was delayed by a day since markets were closed for Eid al-Adha. This money will cover working capital requirements and product development, among other things.

The trend of ideaForge’s growth illustrates the promise of India’s drone sector. It is considered a promising industry since these devices have applications in the military, e-commerce, logistics, healthcare, and other fields. In addition, India possesses the skill to design and manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to a 2022 EY-FICCI research, Making India the Drone Hub of the World, the domestic manufacturing potential for drones and parts in the defence, commercial, homeland security, and anti-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industries is roughly Rs 1.8 lakh crore.

The government has stated that it intends to make India a worldwide drone centre by 2030. It expects the segment’s revenue to reach Rs 900 crore by 2024-25, up from Rs 60-80 crore in 2020-21. Is that a realistic goal? Experts think sure, as long as the government focuses on taking the necessary steps to support the ecosystem.

Since 2020, there has already been a major increase in drone production. According to Mr Arun Nagarajan, Partner-Technology Consulting, EY India, it has expanded at a CAGR of about 15% since then. Several government efforts have contributed to this expansion, like the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, the Kisan Drone Scheme, and the Drone Shakti Programme.

Farmers may purchase these unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor crop health and apply fertiliser under the Kisan Drone Scheme, which offers incentives, subsidies, and financial support. Drone Shakti is an attempt to unite all parties, institutionalise, and build a framework. The government authorised the PLI Scheme for drones and drone parts in September 2021.

03/07/2023 Priyanka Chakraborty/Inventiva

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