NEW DELHI: In the age of social media, we are aware of those beautiful pictures captured by drone cameras. But capturing those breathtaking, memorable moments was only part of the job as drones have slowly established their usefulness in various other ways.
When the Indian government announced its new drone policy – Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022 – it gave a fillip to the drone enthusiasts and the drone industry as a whole.
The two-day Bharat Drone Mahotsav at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, this week saw over 150 drone companies showcasing their machines.
While the focus of the festival was on the defence and agricultural use of drones, many allied companies are also there. From companies dealing with drone hardware and software, companies that deal with drone insurance as well to companies that provide drone training are all there as the whole drone ecosystem was on display.
While the festival drew a large crowd, both business and general, Hermes 900 and Sky Striker by Adani Defence and Aerospace, in partnership with Israel’s Elbit Systems, were the biggest crowd pullers.
Hermes 900 is a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Range) UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) which is manufactured for defence use.
The New Indian also caught up with Jatayu which is coming up with Jatayu Mk 2 drones.
“We take this name from Ramayana. Like Jatayu fighting to defend Sita ma, our Jatayu Mk 2 will fight to save our motherland. We have attached an AK47 rifle to it and have already done two successful tests with the Indian Army,” Sourav from Jatayu said. “Our drone had fired an AK47 in single and burst shots to the accuracy of 15 to 20 cm,” he added.
Founded in 2015 by Vikram Singh, an IIT Kanpur alumni, Tech Eagle came to prominence when it delivered tea via drone in Lucknow.
It successfully delivered food with Zomato in January 2019 and completed Asia’s cold chain vaccine delivery by drones in Telangana. The company has made its name by delivering medicines in the remotest areas of Meghalaya.
Vikram Singh, CEO and Founder of Tech Eagle said, “Our network of drones will deliver everything. You can send your mobile phone, blood samples to diagnostics. So, it is the network which we are building”.
“I came from a small village in Rajasthan where road connectivity is still very poor. We lost our relatives due to snake bites and lack of blood because the anti-venoms and blood could not be delivered on time. It is when I decided to make drones that can deliver parcels a long distance,” Singh said.
It is not the defence that drones have a role to play. Drones are also useful in agricultural fields.
Talking about the utility of Krishi Viman drones, Dr Shankar Goenka, Managing director of Wow Go Green, said, “With drones, it is easier for the farmers to spray fertilisers in the field. Drones not only helped save time and energy of the farmers, but it also helped them save water through effective use of technology.”
“We did more than 200 demonstrations and farmers are using this drone in UP, Haryana, MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Guwahati,” he added.
With drones comes drone insurance, a new addition to the drone ecosystem.
“Drone is a new industry and if people are not able to handle it properly then accidents can happen. This is where drone insurance comes in handy,” Pratik Verma from TropoGo told The New Indian.
“Drone insurance keeps you safe from legal remedies. Also, to fly drones without insurance is illegal. We have sold more than 150+ policies to more than 50+ companies,” Verma added.
Drone, for a difference
Of all the commercial activities, some are bringing joy with a humane touch. Skysight is one such venture that trains differently-abled persons who want to fly drones.
“Ours is free of cost service for differently-abled persons who are technically less qualified but want to learn how to fly drones. We teach them in sign language and we are doing this just for a social cause,” Nikita from the company said.