From e-commerce and healthcare to retail and agriculture, drones are ready to conquer the delivery space with AI technology and hi-end efficiency. India is one of the largest growing markets in the world for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to a report published by BIS Research, by 2021, the Indian UAV market will reach US$ 885.7 million, while the global market will touch US$ 22.1 billion.
According to Rahul Papney, lead analyst – BIS Research, India will widely utilise UAVs for both commercial and military applications. However, by 2021, commercial usage will exceed military applications.
In the e-commerce space, giants like Amazon and Flipkart are already at the pilot phase of testing drone delivery in India. Amazon has filed for a patent for multi-scale fiducials. (Fiducials are black-and-white marks printed on UAVS to help identify these from a distance.) Amazon Prime Air delivery system will allow Amazon to deliver packages within 30 minutes or less in select locations.
Operations for such commercial applications, however, are mostly successful in low-wind and high-visibility areas. Locations with extreme temperatures may not be suitable for usage. In some remote areas of Africa, drones have proven to be highly successful in providing quick and timely medical aid during a disaster. The operations have saved thousands of lives. Such successful stories are pushing drone adaptation for different industries and geographies.
“Drone technology is the future but, we cannot expect everyone to have access to auto-operated drones, as these are very expensive. We need professionals who understand how to operate drones, their technicalities and features, among others,” says Jagadesh Chander Munivel, director – Maavan Aeronautics, a drone training institute in Chennai.
Indian government has a specific policy for flying drones in the country. It clearly enlists the areas where drones can fly for commercial usage within the geographical boundaries of the country, types of drones allowed along with specified weight categories. Companies that wish to legally use drone technology must obtain necessary permits for drone usage from the government. However, to open doors for innovation, the government has specified that using nano-drones (UAVs that weigh up to 250gms) and those operated by government agencies do not require any permit.
As per a study by Allied Market Research, aerial photography via drones is estimated to reach US$ 2.8 million mark worldwide by 2022. For instance, Mumbai-based drone startup Airpix specialises in using drones for aerial mapping of areas that are otherwise difficult to reach.
Shinil Shekhar, co-founder – Airpix, says, “We provide data acquisition and analysis solutions using UAVs for multiple industries. The solutions and reports provided by us help clients in project designing, progress monitoring, volume calculations and inspection of critical assets.”
Shekhar adds, “Drones are just a platform. What you make of them depends on how you select the sensors based on your project requirement and what kind of insights you derive after processing that data.”
While globally, industrial use of drones for mapping is done extensively, India is still at a nascent stage. Industry players hold the current regulations responsible for the slow growth in this category. “For drones to become a great business, healthy regulations have to be in place—regulations that will promote the technology, safeguard national security and ensure public safety,” notes Shekhar.