By Glenford D’Souza, Senior General Manager, Lynx-Lawrence & Mayo
December 3 2019: In the long list of innovations that established never-before-seen technologies, Drones have established their stance as the most valuable tech of the 21st century. Initially perceived as a toy, drones are being utilized to their full potential across a broad spectrum. Since its entrance into commercial utilization, they have helped humans simplify complex tasks and work in extreme conditions without enduring severe costs.
Industries and sectors in India, though skeptical in the beginning, have embraced drones to increase work efficiency and reduce operational cost. According to a report by FICCI and EY, the Indian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is expected to touch $885.7 million by 2021, with the global UAV market size approaching $21.47 billion. Furthermore, a report by PWC India further states that the drone space is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% during 2017-23.
Growth drivers for Drones in India
India is among the top countries across the globe in terms of drones imports accounting to over 20%. The reason behind its rapid growth in demand in India is due to the following sectors:
Drones in infrastructure and engineering:
UAVs are being used in the infrastructure and engineering industry owing to its ability to automate tasks previously accomplished using complex machinery and time-consuming processes. In the infrastructure segment, drones are used in quarries for topographic surveys and the measurement of reserves and storage volumes. Before accepting an infrastructure project, drones are used by project constructors to survey the land. This tool equipped with smart features, aerial analysis of the land is performed to prepare a suitable infrastructure blueprint.
These devices are also being used in construction companies to monitor an ongoing project and the functioning of engineering equipment. UAVs are also helping governments in their endeavor to make current cities smart. Drones are providing useful analytical data pertaining to traffic and crowd management and assisting governments in evaluating the conditions of current infrastructure such as bridges, solar farms, etc.Drones in Security and Surveillance
The primary sector where drones were used commercially was for security and surveillance. With the advancement in camera resolution and artificial intelligence, drones have become the product of choice to provide security and surveillance over a particular area. These devices are further helping governments and security companies in surveillance desired targets through features like multiple GPS for redundancy, integrated application software with a geographic map, and real-time video transmission. Being a powerful force multiplier, they also help security agencies by providing the ability to schedule, monitor, and repeat autonomous missions to augment security guards. Drone technology is also being used by governments to ensure border security, coastal security, and better crowd and traffic management processes.
Private security companies are using drones stocked with HD image sensing cameras to keep track of people and vehicles. Drones with radiometric thermal payload and multispectral cameras are taking over the CCTV surveillance industry and are swiftly becoming the key technology to ensure on-campus safety.
Drones for environmental studies and monitoring
Drones have become a scientist’s best friend as they aid in the analysis of a particular area to gain data regarding the environment. Indian Forest Department, in the year 2018, used drones to monitor the 13 crore plantation drive in the Indian city of Nagpur. UAVs are helping environmentalists to study wildlife, monitor flora and fauna, and to capture the impact of environmental factors on the forest life. As the drones can be equipped with scientific scanning equipment, conservationists and researchers are using them in place of lower-resolution satellite imagery, slower terrestrial surveying equipment, and expensive manned aircraft services. Key areas where drones are used currently include, Forestry, Plant Conservation, Animal Conservation, River and Flood assessment, among others.
In December 2018, the government of India introduced new policies and regulations surrounding the use of drones by private citizens in India. Overturning the ban on UAVs since 2014, the laws dictate that Indian citizens can fly drones with payloads up to 249 gms (falling in the category of nano drones) without having to register for Unique Identification Number (UIN). Furthermore, for flights with larger than 250 gms payload (micro, small, medium and large drones up to 150 kg), one would compulsorily need a UIN, which costs Rs 1,000 and a permit to operate the drones, costing Rs 25,000. The Indian government has launched a portal called ‘Digital Sky’ for registering drones and obtain a UIN and the operator’s permit.
A drone task-force was constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Minister of State for Civil Aviation. Accordingly, based on the recommendations of the task force, the Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap (“Drone Policy 2.0”) was released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on January 15, 2019. Drone Policy 2.0 aims to relax further the regulations introduced by the Indian government.
Furthermore, the policy seeks to provide a way for foreign players to invest in India, which will allow the development of India’s UAV sector. Investments by the Indian government and citizens, combined with future foreign direct investment, can become the reason for the further evolution of the drone sector in India. Drone-related careers can open up for pilots, UAV operators, engineers, and data processing and analysis experts. Potential positions can range from full-time to contract-based work, and internships across many industries.
Even though the commercial use of drones is on the rise in India, challenges emerge constantly. Additional Investment is required for innovations and research regarding the safe use of UAVs in India. It is through scientific research that drones can be technologically advanced to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and become the one-stop solution for every sector’s problems.
LYNX is the engineering and instrumentation arm of the legendary Lawrence & Mayo brand that boasts of over 141 years of existence. Along with its Technical Development Service Centres (TDSC), Lynx pursues its ultimate goal of excellence in design and innovation. Key Focus Sectors: Land Surveying Instrumentation, Agriculture and Weather monitoring equipment, Modern Drones, Medical and Healthcare. instrumentation.