Drone service providers and manufacturers in India are witnessing a surge in demand from domestic and international markets, focusing on affordable yet high-quality products to outshine global competitors. Despite challenges, indigenous companies are innovating to meet market demands. Mumbai-based ideaForge, backed by Qualcomm, Infosys, and Florintree Capital Partners, expects demand to rise further due to the government's push to establish India as a global drone hub. The recent production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme by the civil aviation ministry has also benefited the sector, with ideaForge receiving a significant share. Drone traffic management and entertainment services are also gaining traction in the Indian market.
Drone service providers and manufacturers in India are experiencing a steady increase in demand from both domestic and international markets, and are prioritizing affordable yet high-quality products to outperform global competitors, according to experts. Despite challenges such as achieving scale and reducing component imports, most indigenous companies are innovating to meet market demands.
“The industry is on a high growth path. Broadly, we need to keep up with demand and we need to ensure we are building the right quality that will allow users to deploy the system in diverse environmental conditions in our country,” said Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO of drone manufacturer ideaForge.
Based in Mumbai, ideaForge is the second drone firm to file for an initial public offering (IPO) in India, following DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations Ltd, which is backed by renowned investor Shankar Sharma. Supported by Qualcomm, Infosys, and Florintree Capital Partners, ideaForge expects demand to continue to rise due to the government’s push to establish India as a global hub for drones by 2030 and the evolving geopolitical situation.
Drone Companies Aim For Scale And Quality In The Competitive Race To The Skies
To tap into the increasing demand from foreign markets, ideaForge has already established a subsidiary in the US. “One of our strategies is to go to the international market and pitch our products. We have a production facility in India. Progressively, it (production units abroad) will depend on the need of the global markets,” Mehta added.
Recently, the sector has benefited from the civil aviation ministry’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for the drone sector. While the initial outlay for FY21-22 was ₹16 crore, the government has disbursed ₹30 crore so far, and has approved 12 out of over 50 companies that have submitted applications to enroll under the scheme.
Out of the total outlay, around 60% was received by ideaForge alone, while the remaining amount was shared by Aarav Unmanned Systems, Sagar Defence Raphe mPhibir, and Throttle Aerospace.
“Based on this, we will have a very large and tall claim on next year’s PLI scheme from the industry’s side. Now, when the number of drones is increasing in airspace and drones need to fly alongside manned aircraft, there is a need to think about drone traffic management through UTM (unmanned aircraft system traffic management) policy,” said Smit Shah, President of the Drone Federation of India.
According to industry estimates, there are nearly 60,000 drones operating in India, including 20,000-30,000 recreational devices. BotLab Dynamics has been a leader in providing drones as a service for entertainment, particularly in drone swarm light shows. “There is a growing interest in such drone swarm light shows. We have received inquiries from several countries and state governments,” said Sarita Ahlawat, co-founder of BotLab Dynamics.
LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser light to measure distances and create precise three-dimensional maps or point cloud data of objects and surfaces. LiDAR sensors emit laser pulses that bounce back when they encounter objects, and the time taken for the light to return to the sensor is measured to calculate the distance. By collecting multiple data points, LiDAR sensors can create highly accurate and detailed maps of terrain, vegetation, buildings, and other objects, making them valuable tools in various applications such as mapping, surveying, forestry, archaeology, and urban planning.
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