Chennai: Chennai-based firm Garuda Aerospace that provides drone services on Tuesday (May 25) said that it aims to enhance its fleet by about five times by the year 2022.
Several states in India have tested and operated drones to serve various purposes including mapping, industrial inspection, crop spraying, aerial surveying, search and rescue. In the non-contact era that the pandemic, drones are offering wide-ranging solutions to many challenges.
Garuda Aerospace said it has provided drone services to bolster the COVID-19 fight of over 10 states across India, including Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh among others.
On a paid basis, various police departments in cities have sought their services for implementing strict lockdowns by mounting surveillance from above. Even health departments have used drones to disinfect vast areas in a quick span.
Over the next five days, their firm is testing the feasibility of drones for sanitization and delivery in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Garuda’s drones have performed roles such as sanitization, loudspeaker announcements, industrial inspection, mapping, pesticide spraying, tunnel inspection, delivery etc.
The drones demonstrated the delivery of essentials and medicines at the staff quarters in India’s Spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, where COVID-19 positive residents were home quarantined.
The economic feasibility of sustained drone operations is being worked on.
Speaking of their drone fleet, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder, Garuda Aerospace told Zee media that they have 300 drones and 150 pilots stationed across 26 cities, besides 45 core technicians for undertaking repairs in majors zonal centers.
“We plan to have 1200-1500 drones (almost 5 times the current capacity) in operation over the next six months because that’s how high the demand is. Garuda is presently valued at $100mn and is raising funds from Venture capitalists abroad. By the end of 2022 we hope to be a Unicorn in the Drone-as-a-service sector,” Jayaprakash said.
According to Jayaprakash, the firm is seeing a heightened demand from the European market as the cost of operating and flying a Garuda drone is said to be about one-eighth the cost of doing the same with a foreign variant.