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Road to Adoption Of Drones In India

Road to Adoption Of Drones In India

ICT | May, 2019

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have been around for a long time, however, Amazon’s announcement in 2013 to start drone delivery experiments stirred the industry.  Since then, advent of several drone-based companies has been witnessed and the trend is here to stay as numerous industries are leveraging the power of unmanned aerial vehicles to gather crucial insights.

Array Of Industries In Which Drones Have Penetrated So Far

Drones market is growing at a rapid pace and is expanding to various verticals, including, media, government, energy & utilities, aerial photography, agriculture, e-commerce and entertainment. Unmanned aerial vehicles help to gather crucial information with reduced cost of technology and compliance, which is bolstering their demand across various industries. Additionally, integration with technologies, such as augmented reality, 3D modelling and internet of things, can open a multitude of possibilities for their operation. Drone technology is used to capture visual information, however, with proper programming and computing, visual information can be converted into data points which can be used in multiple ways.

Application Of Drones In Various Industries

UAV Market In Key Countries

Since the advent of drones, North America has been an early adopter of drones and is the dominant geography with US leading the race. Additionally, according to Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, 70,000 jobs are anticipated to be added, with the US economy reaching $ 13.6 billion within the first three years of commercialization of UAV.

In terms of funding, China topped the list with $ 262 million funding since 2015. While, among regions, European countries are witnessing high developments and investments in UAV technology. US, China and India have aviation authorities such as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), respectively in place for regulating the operations of UAS in these countries. Aviation authorities have been implementing new regulations for facilitating the adoption of drones in various economies. For instance, in 2018, FAA launched UAS Integrated Pilot Program for implementing drone programs to integrate upcoming technologies in federal regulations. FAA also initiated Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program, which allows flying drones at a location close to any airport.

According to TechSci Research reportGlobal Drones Market By Type (VTOL/Rotary, Fixed Wing, etc), By Segment (Consumer, Commercial & Military), By Application (Aerial Photography, Agriculture, Industrial Inspection, etc), By Payload, By Region, Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2023”, global drones market stood at over $ 69 billion in 2017 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 11% to surpass $ 141 billion by 2023, on the back of increasing use of drones in commercial and military applications as well as in surveillance activities. Moreover, technological advancements in commercial drones and rising use of drones for aerial remote sensing is further fueling growth in the drone market, globally. Additionally, formulation of regulatory policies for optimal utilization of drones along with increasing awareness about UAVs is further expected to positively influence global drones market in the coming years.

Leaders In The UAV Market 

According to TechSci Research, SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. is the dominating player in the drone aircraft market. The Chinese company accounts for the majority share in the market, as of 2018, which can be attributed to technological advancements and product developments by the company. SZ DJI has a global distribution network and competitive pricing working in advantage for the growth of the company. Other players operating in global drones market include 3D Robotics, Inc., AeroVironment, Inc., Parrot S.A., Yuneec International Co. Ltd, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corp., Boeing, and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, among others.

Present Scenario In India

The market for unmanned aircraft systems in India is at a nascent stage. Based on Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s report on Make in India for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Indian UAV market is projected to reach $ 885.7 million during 2017-2023, exhibiting a CAGR of 18% during the forecast period. The country is expected to witness adoption of drones majorly for commercial and military applications. UAVs have witnessed steady growth in India over the past five years, however the application was only limited to the PSU, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and government agencies.

Uses Cases of Unmanned Aerial Systems in India

With the increasing popularity of the unmanned aerial systems, National Railway System has started deploying drones for monitoring the construction progress of railway lines in mega projects. Other instances of unmanned aerial systems in India include:

  • PSUs are employing unmanned aerial systems for monitoring, intrusion detection and surveillance of solar power plants.
  • Coal mining companies are utilizing drones for the aerial surveys of coal mines for the assessment of greenery restoration.
  • Disaster management organizations are employing drones for rescue and relief operations.

In October 2018, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) published regulations for usage of drones so as to promote the adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles. The regulations came into effect from 1 December 2018, and all the operations of the remotely operated aircraft will be allowed through digital sky platform. Indian drone policy is expected to encourage the manufacturing of drones in India and offer employment opportunities to professionals. As a result of the Indian drone policy and Make in India initiative, private players are entering into the commercial drone space so as to register positive growth in the drones market.

According to TechSci Research report “India Commercial Drones Market, By Type (Fixed Wing, High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE), Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE) and Others), By Payload (Less than 250 gm, 250 gm - 2 kg, 2-25kg, 25-250kg, above 250 Kg), By Application (Agriculture & Forestry, Media & Entertainment, Mapping & Monitoring and Others), By Company and By Geography, Forecast & Opportunities, 2024”, India commercial drones market is projected to grow at a double digital CAGR during forecast period. Commercial drones are significantly gaining adoption across several applications owing to growing technological advancements and rising demand for drones in media and entertainment applications. India is among top countries across the globe in terms of drones imports. In 2018, India accounted for over 20% of the global drones imports. Moreover, the government of India is focusing on “Make in India” initiative to increase domestic manufacturing of these drones in the coming years. Based on type, the market is segmented into Fixed Wing, High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE), Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE) and Others. In 2018, MALE segment dominated the market and is anticipated to maintain its dominance over the next five years as well. Commercial drones have several end user applications like Agriculture & Forestry, Media & Entertainment, Mapping & Monitoring and others which is anticipated to drive the overall commercial drone market during forecast period owing to increasing demand from these sectors. Additionally, the introduction of government policies is further augmenting the demand for commercial drones in the country.

Timeline of Indian Drone Policy

Implications Of Drone Policy Implemented By The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)

  • The current drone policy classifies unmanned aerial systems into five categories including micro and mini based on the maximum take-off weight.
  • All the UAVs need to be registered and possess Unique Identification Number (UIN) before they can be operated.
  • All the UAVs will have to adhere to the rules set by Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) based on their classification.
  • Only trained pilots can fly UAVs and each flight must be recorded with data so that it can be produced to the regulator on demand.
  • Nano and micro remotely piloted aircraft are exempted from filing flight plan and obtaining Air Defense Clearance upto 50 feet and 200 feet, respectively.
  • Operations of the remotely piloted aircraft will be permitted only in daylight with visual line of sight.
  • Remotely operated aircraft cannot discharge objects without the approval from Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP).
  • Only nano remotely piloted aircraft are excused for approvals from police authority before commencing operations.
  • Minimum ground visibility of 5 km is must for remotely piloted aircraft.
  • Unmanned air operator has to file for flight plan and obtain clearance with concerned air traffic services (ATS) units for operation at or above 200 feet.

Indian Drone Policy for the regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles is aimed at building world-friendly and safe environment for the adoption of drones in India. The guidelines are expected to provide the required thrust for the drone start-ups and private players to venture into UAV space. Some of the Indian start-ups operating in the market include Martian Way Corporation, Aarav Unmanned Systems, Aerial Photo India, Aerialair, Aero360, AirPix, Asteria Aerospace, Aurora Integrated Systems, among others.


Author: Mr. Ruchit Mahendru, Research Manager, TechSci Research

Mr. Ruchit Mahendru is a management and strategy consulting professional with over 8 years of experience. Mr. Mahendru has been instrumental in developing and implementing business strategies for many ICT companies. He has extensive experience in advising clients to identify and tap unearthed opportunities for its clients to lead rather than following competition.