The Indian drone market is a burgeoning one, despite some restrictive legislation and rules concerning UAS in the country. India has need of drones for fast surveying and mapping of infrastructure and agriculture, and is both purchasing from foreign nations and developing UAS locally for use in the defence industry.
In response to the growing demand for drones in India, a number of start-up drone companies have sprung up across the country, and several show promise. The top contenders at present appear to be:
Kadet Defense Systems, founded by Avdhesh Khaitan in 2005, which got its start producing UAS target vehicles for the Indian Air Force and Navy in 2008. Since the initial tests, Kadet has become the first Indian company to win a contract for developing aerial targets for India’s Defence Ministry. They’ve also signed a contract with Airbus for the joint sale and marketing of Airbus aerial targets in India. Kadet Defense Systems would appear to be one of the largest, if not the largest, military-focused startups currently in India.
A more civil-focused startup is Skylark Drones, whose focus in UAS usage is on mining, infrastructure and agriculture (and mapping, monitoring, and inspecting, to be specific). The company provides these services to customers using a fleet of custom-built drones and doesn’t distribute the UAS they build. Skylark also offers to analyse or simplify the data they’ve collected for their clients. Skylark was founded in 2014 and has since provided their services to clients like the Bangalore police, Indian Oil, and more.
Aarav Unmanned Systems, founded in 2013 by four university students, and manufactures two of its own UAS platforms. It also offers the service of using these UAS to map, monitor, or inspect in agriculture or industry.
IdeaForge is a more longstanding startup, having been founded in 2007 in Bombay, and has made a good name for itself via its NETRA quadcopter, which has since been used to monitor crowds by Mumbai police in 2012, and in the relief effort for the Nepal earthquake in 2015, to locate survivors.
OM UAV Systems, founded and based in Delhi in 2012, also concerns itself with the manufacturing of UAS, and has brought out five different fixed-wing and multirotor drones for civil and military use.
Samhams Technologies, a three-man company based in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, manufacture a variety of custom-made UAS for use in commercial or military applications such as payload delivery.
Sree Sai Aerotech, based in Chennai, produce drones for use in agriculture, such as crop-spraying multirotors or farm-mapping drones.
Edall Systems, based in Bangalore, provides mapping, building inspection, and surveying services and build drones of their own for such purposes.
Airpix, based in Navi Mumbai, is a slightly different startup company to the others-their services include the standard mapping and surveying, but they also offer aerial photography for films and other media. In addition, they offer to train UAS pilots in aerial photography and data capture.
Also based in Navi Mumbai are Indrones Solutions, a company that was founded in 2013 and provides surveying, mapping, crop-monitoring, and aerial photography using UAS.
The rapid emergence of more and more companies focusing on the use of UAS in India speaks to a market that is growing at a prodigious rate, the sale of civil drones alone having accounted for above US$15 million. Evidently, there is demand for drones in modern India, and these companies are a reflection of that demand.