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Flying high: How commercial drones are taking flight in India through enterprise

  • Domestic market for commercial drones is likely to overtake the military market by 2021, as per BIS Research
  • The drone space in India is on the verge of a major turnaround as a result of the green flag by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation 

Very soon Zomato will be delivering food at your doorstep using drones. The Gurugram-based company is building a hub-to-hub delivery network, which will use multi-rotor drones that can pick up a payload of under 5kg.

“We believe drones are an inevitable part of the future. Food delivery via drones will help reduce the last mile delivery leg and make the process more convenient and cost-effective," said Vikram Singh Meena, associate vice president, technology, Zomato, and founder of TechEagle.

Zomato is just a case in point. The drone space in India is on the verge of a major turnaround as a result of the green flag by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in December 2018, and the yet to be released drone policy 2.0, which is expected to pave the way for wider application of drones in India. The domestic market for commercial drones will have a market value of $885.7 million, according to market intelligence firm BIS Research. With clarity on regulations, Indian companies are increasingly turning to drone-based solutions.

According to reports, Tata Steel is working with Skylark Drones, a Bangalore-based data analytics startup, to deploy drones at their Noamundi iron ore mines in Jharkhand, for compliance reporting and monitoring volumetric production. Skylark is also working with a major bauxite company, which is using their drone-based monitoring solution to ensure all equipment and manpower is being deployed at mines, according to plan, and is safe.

According to Skylark, it helped the company identify illegal mining during off season. Chennai-based DeTect Technologies has developed its own positioning system that works like an internal GPS of sorts, allowing its drones to monitor structures like a boiler inside a plant, autonomously. DeTect is working with Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil and GAIL.

“The amount of inspection done over several days can be heavily optimized and completed in a few hours with the use of drones and the analysis of that," says Daniel Raj David, CEO and co-founder, DeTect. Under the new policy, drones will need permission via the Digital Sky platform before they can take off. The new regulations, despite being somewhat more stringent than in other countries, have been received well by drone companies in India.

Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy, CEO Skylark Drones feels this is just the beginning of a new era and in the next two to three years more such use cases will come up, where drones will be deployed by enterprises for monitoring far-off sites and infrastructure that are not easily accessible such as a reservoir or a cell tower.

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