India will be global player in drones: Garuda Aerospace

Considering the faster adoption of drones for various applications, especially for agri, consumer-related and the Central Government’s policies for encouraging the manufacturing of unmanned areal vehicles (UAVs), India would soon become a global drone hub and serious players like Garuda Aerospace would drive this growth, said Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder & CEO, Garuda Aerospace in an interview.

Considering the faster adoption of drones for various applications, especially for agri, consumer-related and the Central Government’s policies for encouraging the manufacturing of unmanned areal vehicles (UAVs), India would soon become a global drone hub and serious players like Garuda Aerospace would drive this growth, said Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder & CEO, Garuda Aerospace in an interview.

He said India would transform into a global drone capital by 2030 given superior quality, data information security and pricing as compared to China which is now the world leader.

“This will open up export opportunities for Indian drone manufacturers. The demand for Made in India drones is significant in the global market which will in turn help Indian companies to grow faster. This sector will eventually head for consolidation and a few large companies including Garuda Aerospace will lead the sector,” he said.

Stating that the demand for drones has also increased significantly in the last few years, he said this can be attributed to several progressive policies and government schemes including loans for drones, production-linked incentive schemes and subsidies to encourage the adoption of drones for various purposes, especially for agriculture.

The company’s Drone Yatra has also helped it grow in terms of bookings of drones as a service [renting of drones on a per-hour basis] and revenues. The company which clocked revenues of ₹47 crore in the last financial year is now eyeing around ₹120 crore for this fiscal.

It has already raised US$ 22 million and recently announced cricketing personality M.S. Dhoni as its ambassador. Now the company is looking to raise around US$ 40 to 50 million next year in a pre-IPO round, he said.

Currently, the company offers 30 different types of drones across agriculture, videography, project monitoring and surveillance and over 50 different types of services and is aiming to sell at least 1 lakh drones in the next 2 years in the agriculture and consumer segment. The company, he said, has a 55% market share in the agriculture drone sector.

“We are on a mission to positively impact the lives of a billion people through training programs, services, and initiatives focused on empowering youth. As a system integrator, Garuda Aerospace is uniquely positioned with manufacturing capabilities, drones-based services and remote pilot training facilities,” the CEO said.

The company had received a dual certification from DGCA for manufacturing and training of drone pilots.

“India has around 50,000 to 60,000 registered drone pilots and the recent Drone (Amendment) Rules 2023 that allows anyone with a valid government-issued identity proof and address to enlist to become a drone pilot will further boost this number,” he said.

Garuda Aerospace has tied up with Lockheed Martin, Cognizant, and Amazon Web Services, among others to spearhead growth in India’s drone sector.

It has also entered into agreements with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., and BEML Ltd for joint manufacturing of drones to have an asset-light model for better profitability. 

Having recently been granted a subsidy under the Tamil Nadu Government’s Agricultural Mechanisation Scheme, the company believes it would revolutionise India’s agriculture ecosystem by enhancing crop productivity through use of drones.