Drone extravaganza at Delhi’s Pragati Maidan

- June 2, 2022
| By : Judith Mariya Antony |

Bharat Drone Festival - India’s largest drone festival held at Pragati Maidan witnessed a shift in technology. From nano drones to large defence drone models, the festival exhibited start-up companies and various prototype ideas

Krishi Viman's KV10++, an agricultural spraying drone (All photos: Faisal Malik)

Over 70 exhibitors displayed various drones. There were product launches and drone flying demonstrations. Panel discussions were held among various delegates comprising government officials, foreign diplomats, armed forces and other private companies.

Each kiosk at the festival exhibited drones with different uses, starting from agriculture, surveillance and mapping, infrastructure, urban planning, and rescue to defence.

Making technology accessible to the mass population, drones catering to the needs of farmers attracted a lot of visitors.

Patriot talks to a few companies which manufacture drones for agricultural services like spraying insecticides, crop analysis and surveillance and infrastructure.

“We provide different types of agricultural drones, Hexacopter in various models, 5L, 10L and 16. Among these models, there are drones with optical sensors and terrain sensors. The drones with optical sensors can identify the obstacles and prevent crashing and terrain sensor models are used mostly in hilly areas. It takes around 5-6 minutes to spray one acre of land. The price range ranges from Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 5.5 lakh”, said Hiten Patel, Founder of Prime UAV. 

He further said that as part of a Gujarat government initiative, agricultural drones are given to the cooperative society at 75% subsidy. The company was founded in 2019 in Gujarat, apart from the specifications the fact that makes Prime UAV unique is that it allows customisation of drones according to the interests of the customer.

Patel added, “The process is called customised frame solutions, which allows the customer to choose the frame size for their drone.”

Crowd visiting the stalls at the drone festival

Krishi Viman- Kisan ka Viman is an agricultural drone which totally focuses on the spraying part. In the 11-litre capacity drone, 10 litres of water and 1 litre of pesticide are used. The drone has a capacity of 28 kg and sprays one acre of land in 5-6 minutes. It can go up to 50ft in height and width of 500m.

“The use of agricultural drones is more efficient than labour and more economical as compared to what we are going to pay the labourer. The features of the drone include obstacle avoidance, altitude radar, cross folding structure, and a First Person View camera. The drone has both manual mode and autopilot mode”, said Parth Goenka.

While talking about the use of drones in farming, Goenka said, “It has already made an impact among farmers in the Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh sector. Farmers from the southern part India are more progressive in terms of technology and they have initiated this technology two years back. There has been a change in the income and cost reduction part, over a period the demand will be increased.” He added that as far as the statistics predict, nine lakh drones are required to cover the whole agricultural area.

The company has taken initiatives to train and educate farmers on how to use drones. They have tested the use of drones in all types of crops which gives them an upper hand while educating the farmers.

The price of Krishi Viman -10++ is Rs 6 lakh with 5% GST. It comes with a remote control and an India-made charger. With the help of the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund, the farmers can avail of the drones by giving a token amount of Rs 50,000 and pay off the remaining in instalments.

Skysight AI provides a platform for differently-abled people to be drone pilots. They select and train the individuals; the training materials are converted to sign language. Once they qualify for the training and acquire their own drones, we will source business and pass it down to various people. Harjaap Singh, the founder of Skysight, wants this to be a pan-India project rather than focusing only on one city.

Drogo Drones is a drone tech company based in Telangana, they are specialised in surveying, mapping, construction plans, project site monitoring and surveillance. They help the companies to gather insights through aerial images of infrastructure in a construction company, and inspection of the oil and gas industry.

Drogo drones are used in infrastructure sector to survey maps, construction plans and surveillance

“We help clients with real-time information about how the construction activities are going on and how the workers are being managed in the site. The reporting can be accessed through a web browser. Through the Make in India initiative and Svamitva scheme to map rural India and land records to the farmers, these initiatives will bring a robust boost to this industry”, says Vignesh, spokesperson for Drogo drones.

Their largest clients are from the mining sector, as the Indian Bureau of Mining has mandated a policy to map all the mining sites through aerial images to prevent illegal mining. “The drone space has evolved so much because the government has decentralised all the regulations splitting Indian airspace into various zones”, says Vignesh.

He claimed that in future everything is going to be data-dependent, and drones are going to play a big role in real-time data and actionable insights to help the nation.            

Another innovative drone plan which caught the attention of several visitors was the Tethered drone developed by students of MIT Anna University in association with the Tamil Nadu state government and Dhaksha Pvt Ltd. It has a range of up to 200m altitude and flies for eight hours. The model has a battery backup system which increases the efficiency of the drone. The college also provides drone pilot training.

Amid the technological side packed with companies showcasing their products, the festival has also included a drone flying zone. Fly Camp is a Bangalore-based drone training firm, which guides people on how to fly the drone. This stall was crowded with young drone enthusiasts.

For Mishika, studying in class 7 at Hansraj Model School, flying a drone was one of the best experiences she has ever had. According to her, drones are a really great invention, the fertiliser one can help farmers, it can also be used in defence and other areas.

“We started our journey with heavy lift drones for agricultural applications, slowly we directed our direction to emergency requirements. During the pandemic period, Mumbai police were looking for drones with megaphones, so we equipped our Octaglide drone with megaphones and they really loved it. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our potential, and then we moved our attention toward emergency drones”, said Rohan Raut, founder of Drone Stark Technologies.

Speaking about the functionality of these drones, Raut added, “The drone can be used for delivery purposes as it has a capacity of 28kg. We allow platforming with other vendors like medicine delivery, emergency response and direct feed to the disaster management services. The drone is manufactured with components from India itself, which increases the cost of the drone.” Their primary clients are Mumbai police, Assam Disaster Management Authority, Assam Fire Department and other major clients include army suppliers, and Reliance Jio.

Hermes 900, Adani group’s defence drone

Adani Defense and Aerospace has also exhibited various models, and one such model was the Hermes 900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone (MALE). It is a cutting edge technology made in India at the Hyderabad plant.

“Our long term plan would be to ensure that defence needs are met. We would be looking at the commercial sector with civilian applications across various sectors be it agriculture or medicine. Now we are making sure that the capability is brought to India and meets not only our requirement but taking it to the world.                                                                                                                                         

“We are going to see a proliferation of drones in this country and it is only going to help us in optimising our governance and collecting data and using it effectively. People have come here not as clients but with ideas on how to take things further”, said Wing Commander Anand.

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