1 August 2023
Authored by Gary Vermaak
With a population of nearly 1.5 billion, of which approximately 65% reside in rural areas, the potential for drones to revolutionize logistics, particularly in the medical sector for rural communities, is immense. Additionally, in India's major cities, where traffic congestion is a significant issue, drone logistics presents value adding opportunities. The Ministry of Civil Aviation in India has set ambitious goals to position the country as the Drone Hub of the world by 2030, and Indians are making steady progress toward achieving this vision.
Before 2018, drone operations in India were unregulated. However, the introduction of the new Drone Rules in 2021 simplified many restrictive regulations imposed in 2018 and eliminated the cumbersome approval process required for flying drones. Under the 2021 law, authorization to fly is now only necessary when departing from prescribed procedures, and obtaining a drone usage permit has been significantly streamlined.
This century, India has emerged as a global technology leader, with prominent conglomerates like Tata expanding their global presence through acquisitions and expansions. The Indian aerospace industry, including the drone sector, is actively developing home-grown products and solutions for both domestic and international markets, showcasing the nation's growth in the drone industry.
Highlighting some of the leading Indian companies in the delivery drones and drone logistics space:
DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations (BSE: DRONACHRYA), founded in 2017 by Prateek Srivastava, provides a comprehensive ecosystem of drone solutions, including multi-sensor drone surveys, data processing, robust high-configuration hardware for drone delivery, drone-in-a-box solutions for automated survey and surveillance, and drone pilot training, along with GIS data processing. The company earned the prestigious DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) authorization as a Remote Pilot Training Organization (RPTO) in May 2022, with a goal to train instructors and drone pilots for the Indian aerospace industry. They have also announced plans to train 500-plus pilots and 25 instructors annually, starting in 2023. In a notable achievement, DroneAcharya became the first drone company to be listed on the BSE SME platform on December 23, 2022, at a premium of almost 90% to its issue price.
Skye Air Mobility, founded in 2019 by Chandra Prakash and Swapnik Jakkampudi, is another key player in drone delivery technology solutions. As part of the Flipkart Air consortium, Skye Air, along with DroneAcharya, launched drone-based logistics transportation for vaccine delivery in Telangana. The company is actively conducting beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) trials for healthcare deliveries in both Telangana and Karnataka. In February 2023, Skye Air introduced Skye UTM, a pioneering traffic management system for drones in India, enabling operators to plan routes, create flight plans, and assess risks for drone operations.
EndureAir Systems, founded in 2019 by Dr. Abishek, Chirag Jain, Dr. Mangal Kothari, and Rama Krishna, has developed the innovative Orbit UAV, a hybrid VTOL UAV designed specifically for logistics and delivery applications. The Orbit UAV boasts a 7kg payload, a 35 km range, and a top speed of 120 km/h.
TSAW Drones, co-founded by CEO Kishan Tiwari in June 2019, is actively working on expanding its drone delivery network in India. The company partnered with CABT Logistics to establish 136 drone hubs across 24 Indian cities to facilitate drone deliveries. In April 2023, TSAW Drones announced a strategic collaboration with Kanhaiya Life Care Medicine to initiate B2C medicine drone delivery service in Kolkata.
With a well-established aerospace industry and a vast pool of innovative and tech-savvy individuals, India is undoubtedly on track to becoming a global leader in the drone logistics sector. As the country continues to foster innovation and regulatory support, the future of drone deliveries in India appears exceptionally promising.