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Eyes In The Sky: 12 Indian Drone Startups Looking For A Major Pie

Eyes In The Sky: 12 Indian Drone Startups Looking For A Major Pie

India has witnessed a 34.4% surge in the number of drone or UAV startups between August 2021 and February 2022

The annual sales turnover of the drone manufacturing industry may grow from INR 60 Cr in FY21 to over INR 900 Cr in FY24

The drone manufacturing industry would create more than 10,000 direct jobs in the next three years

Ever since the centre liberalised the policy governing drones operation in India last year via the Drones Rules 2021, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ecosystem heaved a sigh of relief. 

The Union Budget 2022 made a slew of positive announcements related to the segment. For example, Cabinet’s approval of INR 120 Cr PLI scheme for the drone industry, a ban on the import of drones – intended to boost domestic manufacturing, and the drone certification scheme to ensure safety and quality requirements are a few positive steps. Besides, the establishment of digital airspace mapping for drones alongside announcements such as Drone Shakti and Kisan drones have been touted as a step in the right direction by experts.

All of these point in one direction – the developments will enable more jobs and help enable an industry that has long been struggling due to bureaucratic hurdles. Finally, the segment can focus on building an investment-friendly ecosystem, as well as work with the government on programmes that incentivise local manufacturing.

In fact, India has witnessed a 34.4% surge in the number of drone or UAV startups between August 2021 (157 startups)  and February 2022 (221 drone startups). 

Last year, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said that drone industry in India will have a turnover of around INR 15,000 Cr by 2026. “If you combine turnover of all three parts of the drone sector (hardware i.e. drone manufacturer, software and service delivery), it is our estimate that by 2026, it will stand at $1.8 Bn. This means that this industry will have a turnover of approximately INR 12,000-INR 15,000 Cr by then,” he stated.

In this article, Inc42 has compiled a list of 12 Indian drone startups, detailing their journeys – from what they do to their plans amid the booming deeptech segment.

The list below is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the Indian drone startups in alphabetical order.


Aarav Unmanned Systems

  • Founded In: 2013
  • Founders: Vipul Singh, Suhas Banshiwala
  • Funding Raised To Date: $748K
  • Investors: GrowX, 500 Startups, StartupXseed, 3one4 capital, Valpro
  • Headquarters: Bengaluru 

Launched in 2013, Aarav Unmanned Systems offers end-to-end drone solutions. AUS is building commercial-grade drones and provides end to end drone-based solutions for enterprise applications in Mining, Infrastructure, Urban Planning, Irrigation, Energy and Agriculture. AUS offers end-to-end integrated solutions for drone applications, providing the drone, an operator and a cloud platform for data analysis.

It was also amongst the three companies that were shortlisted to map India’s 600,000 villages by the government.

The drone startup has so far has mapped more than 5 Mn acres, 15K villages and 35 cities. The startup has further covered 250+ mines and 350+ stockyards for mining, metal, and power companies.

Recently, Aarav Unmanned Systems (AUS) entered into a first-of-its-kind unique lease financial deal worth INR 3.75 Cr with Grip. As part of the deal, Grip will enable AUS to build new revenue streams by leveraging lease financing for more than 50 drones.

The startup claims to be profitable, and has witnessed 250 per cent growth in revenues annually for the past 3 years.


AOTOM TECHNOLOGY

  • Founded In: 2018
  • Founders: Krunal Kalbende
  • Funding Raised To Date: $100K
  • Investors: Krunal Kalbende
  • Headquarters: Nagpur

Aotom Technology works in the field of drone technology, geophysical services, AI, data analytics, face recognition and blockchain technology.

The startup offers machine learning services, regression techniques, deep neural network, pattern recognition, cognitive intelligence, NLP /text mining, visual/audio entity tagging, text captioning, among others to examine a human face and the surface of the earth. 

Its expertise helps it select an appropriate algorithm based on the data structure, patterns and desired outcomes. Coupled with its experience in digital technologies, platforms and the business domain, the startup offers comprehensive solutions and services for business and technology teams of enterprises to apply AI/ML in various lines of business.


BharatRohan

  • Founded In: 2016
  • Founders: Amandeep Panwar, Rishabh Chaudhary
  • Funding Raised To Date: $0.33K
  • Investors: Upaya Social Ventures, Acumen Fund Inc. 
  • Headquarters: Hyderabad 

BharatRohan is a tech-enabled end-to-end agri-enabler that provides drone-based advisory services to around 6K farmers across 30K acre farms in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The startup provides a four-part service that is intended to optimise input usage, minimise crop losses and maximise profit margins. 

The startup also enables a marketplace where farmers can collaborate with different companies via contract farming. While farmers can buy raw materials such as pesticides and seeds from sellers, the FMCG, retail and exporter companies can buy agri-commodities from the farmers’ fields.

While BharatRohan is categorically an agritech startup, the use of drones is the product’s USP. With a drone, the startup generates a detailed map of a farm that characterises specific agronomic issues, including nutrient deficiencies, disease infections, as well as pest and weed infestations. 

Its drones and satellite-based remote sensing imagery of fields, along with the corresponding historical climate and weather records, helps BharatRohan provide value addition to farmers to optimise their outputs. 

The startup is looking to strengthen its foothold across Rajasthan and Gujarat and scale its traceable, sustainable, and profitable ecosystem of seed spices, oilseeds, and pulses across 2 Lakh acres of area in the next 18 months. It also intends to add seed spices such as cumin, coriander, fenugreek, carom and fennel to its existing list.


Enercomp Solutions

  • Founded In: 2013
  • Founders: Jatin Patel
  • Funding Raised To Date: $660K
  • Investors: ah! Ventures 
  • Headquarters: Ahmedabad

AI startup Enercomp offers service with UAV ‘drones’ and a variety of sensors for efficient and reliable data acquisition and processing, providing high standards analytics to gain insights into the data. 

“We had around 90% of revenue coming from the B2B sector and from the drone services business. We are launching our drones and our GIS platform and in fact, we have booked orders of around INR 35 lakh for products. With our strong positioning in the survey/inspection business, we aim to achieve the target of INR 2.5 crore in the current financial year with an increased share in the B2G business as well (around 40% of target revenue),” said Jatin Patel.

With its proprietary tech, Enercomp’s solutions have capabilities to cater to diverse sectors ranging from agriculture to industrial services to defence. 

 


ideaForge

  • Founded In: 2007
  • Founders: Ankit Mehta, Ashish Bhat, Rahul Singh, Vipul Joshi
  • Funding Raised To Date: $18.4 Mn
  • Investors: Blacksoil, Infosys, Qualcomm Ventures, Indian Army
  • Headquarters: Mumbai

Drone manufacturing startup ideaForge makes UAV systems for inspection, surveillance and mapping. Its solutions are used across sectors such as defence, homeland security, mining, construction, agriculture, energy and utilities.

As per its website, IdeaForge has 20 patents and has completed more than 220K end customer missions. Its customers include Indian Army, Navy, Air-Force, all CAPFs (CRPF, BSF, NSG, etc), state police forces and Indian Railways, Survey of India, TAFE, NTPC, DRDO and L&T.

ideaForge designed its Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs with the idea that the Indian Army’s deployment in the last mile doesn’t have access to a clear airspace or a runway. 

Thus, its high altitude version has a service ceiling of 6,000 mtr therefore, can do high altitude missions across even the high tension borders in the north and west. Its flagship product is SWITCH UAV, a 6 kg VTOL that can fly for more than two hours on a single charge.

ideaForge is looking to expand to the Middle East and the North American markets. It is looking at creating deeply integrated solutions for focus application areas of surveillance and mapping. 

As a part of its contract with the Indian Army, ideaForge shall deliver 200 systems soon to augment the Army’s surveillance capabilities.


IoTechWorld 

  • Founded In: 2017
  • Founders: Anup Kumar Upadhyay, Deepak Bhardwaj
  • Funding Raised To Date: $4 Mn 
  • Investors: Dhanuka Agritech
  • Headquarters: Delhi NCR

IoTechWorld is a drone Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that makes drones for applications in agriculture, survey and surveillance. The startup has four products – an Agribot (a-DGCA approved agri-spray drone); a Surveybot (a DGCA-approved drone with LiDar and high-resolution camera, typically useful for defence purposes, Drishti comes with a range of payloads including EOIR, thermals, zoom cameras, radars, LiDars and Heavybot is used for logistics. Heavybot can carry up to 10 Kg payload. 

IoTechWorld plans to encourage indigenous products under the ‘Make In India’ initiative. It intends to expand its sales network, company-owned service stations in 10 states in India. It has about 25 dealers across India, and would raise the number to 100 in future. IoTechWorld would launch its high endurance drone models which can go up to 50~100 km. 


Magnum Wings LLP

  • Founded In: 2019
  • Founders: Abhiram Chava
  • Funding Raised To Date: INR 35 Cr
  • Investors: Petrichor Investments  
  • Headquarters: Hyderabad

Magnum Wings is a technology-driven aeronautical and aviation startup and has come up with its first commercially available Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – MW Viper. A UAV is a multi-purpose vehicle which can be used in commercial and government sectors for a ground survey, payload delivery and surveillance missions by offering maximised operational capabilities and mission flexibility. MW Viper is enabled with a vertical take-off (VTOL) and landing function that allows it to hover, take-off, and land vertically with a payload ranging from 5 kg to 60 kg.

The speed ranges from 30 kmph to 120 kmph and flies at three different altitudes – 100, 400 and 2,000 feet, with continuous flying support of two hours.

MW Viper can be used to survey long areas and can cover 200 kms per trip and can be used to transport over forests or tall trees, whereas regular drones cannot. It can also be used to transport medical emergencies, perishable foods, etc. 

With a high-resolution camera that can capture minute details on the ground, it also ensures privacy by focusing only on specific areas needed through auto image processing capabilities.

It is currently working on all-terrain UAVs with a 60 kgs payload. Magnum Wings envisions doing more technology-led innovations in the UAV sector. The plans also include raising funds to provide UAVs as a service and reach a large audience base and make it more affordable.

The make-in-India startup is planning to raise $10 Mn funding and build 100 kg-500 kg payload UAVs in the coming months.


Optimized Electrotech

  • Founded In: 2017
  • Founders: Anil Yekkala, Dharin Shah, Kuldeep Saxena, Purvi Shah, Sandeep Shah
  • Funding Raised To Date: $2.8 Mn
  • Investors: Starburst Accelerator and Venture Catalysts
  • Headquarters: Ahmedabad

Defence tech startup Optimized Electrotech produces indigenous surveillance systems for security forces, national assets, defence and aerospace companies. 

It provides accurate, actionable and real-time insights about surroundings through autonomous, field-upgradable, secure platforms, as claimed by the startup.

The startup would like to design new-age surveillance systems, product innovations, and build more prototypes to be used in the railways sector, smart city and intelligent border projects.


Skylark Drones

  • Founded In: 2015
  • Founders: Mrinal Pai, Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy
  • Funding Raised To Date: $3 Mn 
  • Investors: InfoEdge Ventures, IAN Fund, AdvantEdge Founders, Fowler Westrup, Redstart Labs, IKP, Vimson Group 
  • Headquarters: Bengaluru

Skylark Drones provides end-to-end drone-based solutions that offer insights to help businesses scale. 

Its drones provide business intelligence to enterprises and believe industries ranging from infrastructure, mining, agriculture, utilities to oil & gas could benefit immensely from the reach, efficiency and productivity that drones offer. 

Skylark aims to provide geospatial intelligence to enterprises with its product called Spectra and Drone Mission Ops. Spectra enables worksite intelligence, several platform integrations and API access. Drone Mission Ops, on the other hand, enables project and fleet management for large enterprises and individual operators to plan and execute drone missions. 

Skylark’s computer vision software analyses aerial imagery to offer industry-specific insights to its clients.

The startup plans to further enhance insights from its drone data, to aid and simplify superior business decisions and strategy for its clients. It also intends to spur international product expansion and development of its drone data analytics-based products. 


TechEagle Innovations

  • Founded In: 2015
  • Founders: Vikram Singh Meena, Anshu Abhishek
  • Funding Raised To Date: $500K
  • Investors: India Accelerator, Vinners Group, Sitics Logistics 
  • Headquarters: Delhi NCR 

TechEagle is a drone logistics airline startup for last and mid-mile deliveries.

To make its vision a reality, TechEagle has already received approvals from the government of India (MoCA) and the regulators (DGCA) to conduct package delivery BVLOS (beyond the visual line of sight) flights in various parts of the country. 

The startup plans to launch new indigenous products, scale operations in India, and hire across functions.


 

UrbanMatrix

  • Founded In: 2019
  • Founders: Rishabh Verma, Ashutosh Kumar, Divyanshu Pundir, Chitransh Chauhan
  • Funding Raised To Date: $497K
  • Investors: Sara Elgi, Laxminarayana 
  • Headquarters: Bengaluru

Urban Matrix Technologies specialises in micro drones and enables industries to easily leverage the power of aerial data by building compliant drone hardware, with proprietary software solutions. 

The founders spotted a gap between the available drone options and industry requirements. Taking photos and videos was not enough, industries require seamless integration of aerial data with their ongoing workflow in order to make real-time decisions that can save time and cost. The startup addressed this by generating actionable data via a dedicated cloud-based platform – UMT Console.

“For a long time, drone technology was limited to military applications. But now, commercial drones are rising with industries adopting them. A time when drones will become an essential part of human civilisation is much nearer than you have imagined,” said Rishabh Verma, CEO of UrbanMatrix Technologies.

UrbanMatrix has expertise in designing and manufacturing industrial drone systems along with world-class proprietary software infrastructure. It allows enterprises to not only control and manage drones but also effortlessly draw functional insights using integrated aerial data processing tools. 

The startup plans to work towards strengthening research and development, deepening market penetration and delivering industry-oriented solutions across verticals. 


VECROS

  • Founded In: 2018
  • Founders: Besta Prem Sai, Sai Allu
  • Funding Raised To Date: $68.49K 
  • Investors: IIT Delhi, NSRCEL-IIMB, STARTUP OASIS, 100xVC, NVIDIA 
  • Headquarters: Delhi NCR

Vecros is a drone tech startup. Its drones have embedded cameras and CPUs that can mimic human behaviour which help them achieve greater autonomy.

The startup that specialises in ML, aerial robotics, control system, robotics sensor tech, and autopilots began as a small student group working on drones from the IIT Delhi campus, where its first aerial robot was developed. Today, Vecros has developed JETPIX™, an operating system for drones, that uses AI and computer vision algorithms to make intelligent decisions so that the drones can match the capabilities of a pilot.

Vecro’s solutions are intended for industrial AI applications that centralise around surveillance and optimising and providing enhanced stack or fleet management. It provides solutions to agriculture, mining, construction and oil and gas industries.

Vecros claims its drones can fly without any pilot input around complex environments. The drone startup aims to sell at least 1,000 drones by the end of 2022 and would expand its team and resources to help achieve its goal. 

Further, it is planning to establish a manufacturing plant and an R&D centre with the help of IIT Delhi and DST to boost further state-of-the-art technology in drones.