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Road to Adoption Of Drones In India

Road to Adoption Of Drones In India

ICT | Nov, 2023

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 rapidly and expanding to various verticals, including media, government, energy & utilities, aerial photography, agriculture, e-commerce, and entertainment. Unmanned aerial vehicles help gather crucial information with reduced technology cost and compliance, bolstering their demand across various industries. Additionally, integration with technologies, such as augmented reality, 3D modeling, and the 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


Drones represent significant potential for increasing the capacities and efficiency of healthcare systems, along with epidemic control. Multiple medical products that are critical but not used regularly, make them difficult to economically stock them. Examples are blood products, diagnostic specimens, emergency relief materials, medications and vaccines, organs for organ transplant, etc. Medications, antibiotics, and treatments offered by medical providers can be delivered directly to homes.

Urban Development:

Drones play a significant role in various aspects of urban development, contributing to efficiency, safety, and innovation. Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras or LiDAR sensors can quickly and accurately survey large areas, creating detailed maps and 3D models from city surveys. Drones can monitor construction sites, providing real-time updates on progress and identifying potential issues. Drones have the potential to revolutionize the delivery of goods in urban areas. They can navigate through traffic more efficiently than traditional delivery methods, reducing delivery times and costs.

Disaster Management:

Drones can be quickly deployed to disaster-stricken areas to assess the extent of damage in real time, identify critical infrastructure failures, and gather real-time information on the affected region. In addition, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras and other potential sensors can aid in search and rescue missions. Drones can also document and capture high-res images of damaged properties and infrastructure.


Modern specialized drones have the capability to plant seeds, which helps in precision planting, ensuring optimal spacing and reducing seed wastage. They can also monitor environmental factors and weather conditions like temperature, humidity, and soil moisture. This data helps farmers make informed decisions about planting, irrigation, and other agronomic practices.

Media and Entertainment:

The one industry that has been in the most evident advantage of drones is the media and entertainment. It has benefitted the industry by providing new perspective to videography, enhancing creativity, and enabling the capture of dynamic footage. They are also employed to capture aerial views of properties for real estate marketing purposes. Recently, various sports have seen the utilization of drones, providing unique camera angles and perspectives during live events.


Drones are capable of performing routine safety inspections of mining infrastructures like conveyor, equipment, and facilities. They can also survey terrain, assess blast patterns, and monitor explosion effects on the mining site. Mapping and Topography are two fields where drones have started to being highly utilized. They help in mine planning, infrastructure development, and helps optimize extraction process for mining companies.

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 many 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 report “Drone Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Competition, Opportunity, and Forecast, 2017-2027 Segmented By Type (Fixed Wing Drone, Rotary Blade Drone, Hybrid Drone), By Altitude (MALE, HALE, LALE), By Payload (Less than 200 kg, 200-500 kg, 500-1000 kg, Above 1000 kg), By End User (Commercial, Defense, Recreational), By Application (Logistics, Security, Agriculture, Mining & Construction, Media & Entertainment, Others), By Region”, The global drone market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 17.99% during the forecast period to reach USD96.00 billion by 2027. Anticipated growth in the drone market can be attributed to increasing applications of drones in media and entertainment sector, continuously evolving defense drone technologies powering autonomous drones in a battlefield, expanding usage of unmanned aerial vehicles for agriculture and mining & construction activities etc. Furthermore, factors such as quality aerial imaging, precision, easy deployment etc., is expected to drive the global drone market during the forecast period.

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.

Use Cases of Unmanned Aerial Systems in India

With the increasing popularity of 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 (MALE) and Others), By Payload (Less than 250 gm, 250 gm - 2 kg, 2-25kg, 25-250kg, Above 250 Kg), By Technology (Fully Autonomous, Semi-Autonomous and Remotely), By Application Type (Agriculture & Forestry, Media & Entertainment, Mapping & Monitoring and Others), By Region, Competition Forecast & Opportunities 2019- 2029F, The India Commercial Drones Market is anticipated to register a robust CAGR in the upcoming years. Due to the varied usage and applications the demand for commercial drones is booming. Commercial drones are used in aerial photography, cinematography, land surveys, monitoring infrastructure, construction industry and agricultural sector. With the increasing pace of innovation and cost efficiency commercial drones are also being used for the last mile delivery, and in logistics, healthcare, and retail sectors. 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 drone imports. In 2018, India accounted for over 20% of the global drone 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.

AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) Integration: Strategic Developments in the Context of Drones

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is a rapidly evolving field in India and drones are playing a significant role in its development. Regulatory bodies have been making considerable progress in accommodating AAM and drone operations. In addition, the development of infrastructure to support AAM has been ongoing. This includes the construction of vertiports and charging stations for air taxis and drones.

  • Morgan Stanley, an American multinational investment bank and financial services company, estimated that the global UAM market is expected to grow 30% annually, between 2021 and 2040, potentially reaching $1.5 trillion by 2040. In fact, the Government of India has also recognized the significance of drones or UAV (AAM technology) for further growth of the country. It’s effort to promote the sector by liberalising Drone Rules, 2021 and PLI schemes is one example of their focus.
  • Additionally, the Indian government is working harder by making rules that allow businesses to grow. They're also doing things like Drone Shakti, a program to give incentives for production, and opening up more airspace. All of these things are helping the market to grow.
  • The Indian UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) industry was worth around US$830 million, in 2020. Even though the pandemic affected many parts of the country, this industry was expected to grow by about 14.5% each year from 2021 to 2026.
  • The war between Russia and Ukraine showed how drones were used in modern warfare. While initially, drones were limited to on-ground monitoring and surveillance, they have now become a strategic warfare weapon. Because of its versatility, drones can be used for multiple types of mission, including intelligence gathering, targeted strikes, reconnaissance, etc. With such drone potential in the country, India is working on to building its own self-reliant drone industry.

Some examples of top drone companies in India are:

  • Alpha Design Technologies, Bangalore, Karnataka
  • Paras Aerospace, Bangalore, Karnataka
  • Inventgrid India, Sambalpur, Odisha
  • Ideaforge Technology, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Dhaksha Unmanned Systems, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • ZMotion Autonomous Systems, Bangalore, Karnataka
  • Adroitec Information Systems, New Delhi

The Road Ahead

The drone market in India is an emerging and promising sector that has the potential to grow and evolve in the upcoming years. In 2022, the Indian drone market was dominated by an Indian startup, named ideaForge, with a market share of more than 47% in 2022, and with more than 20 registered patents.

  • With the introduction to Kisan drones, the agricultural sector hopes for more drone interventions to boost productivity through crop assessment and insecticides and nutrients’ spray.
  • The media and the entertainment industry is expected to hold a prominent Indian drone market share, owing to the increased usage of aerial cinematography.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation believes that in the next three years, the drone and drone parts industry could get investments worth more than 5,000 Crore Rupees. The money made by selling drones and parts could increase from 60 Crore Rupees in 2020-21 to more than 900 Crore Rupees by the financial year 2023-24. This might create over 10,000 jobs. Also, the part of the drone industry that offers services like flying drones, handling data, and managing traffic could grow to more than 30,000 Crore Rupees during this time and provide jobs for over five lakh people. Therefore, the drone sector is a sunrise sector in India with the potential to significantly impact defense, surveillance, internal security, disaster management, agriculture, healthcare, geo-spatial mapping, mining, infrastructure, and aerial photography and cinematography, among many other areas.

Summing Up

The drone industry in India is getting ready for significant growth in the upcoming years. The government is taking active steps to make it happen. With drones having the potential to change industries, like farming, construction, healthcare, transportation, and security, it is a big opportunity for India. However, there are some challenges, such as safety, regulations, and privacy, that need to be addressed.

The investment prospects in the drone manufacturing industry and the surge in annual sales turnover indicate a burgeoning economic opportunity. As drone technology becomes more accessible and sophisticated, it promises to create numerous job opportunities, drive innovation, and reduce dependency on foreign drone imports. Moreover, the drone services industry, encompassing operations, data processing, and traffic management, is poised for remarkable expansion, potentially utilizing a substantial workforce.