Drones designed for delivering orders made through the food aggregator app Swiggy are today being used to rush essential supplies such as food, water and medicines to the flood affected.
These surveillance and delivery drones designed and developed by the country’s largest drone startup, Garuda Aerospace, are currently deployed in Vadodara in Gujarat and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh to supplement the relief and rescue efforts of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams deployed amid the raging floods in those states.
Five drones each are being used for the purpose in the districts of Vadodara and Guntur. A few weeks earlier, the company was requisitioned by NDRF for a similar role in Assam. At that time, Garuda had pressed into service 15 drones in different parts of the state.
“Compared to helicopters, drones are faster, more accessible, cheaper to operate and capable of doing multiple sorties. Also, unlike helicopters too many permissions aren’t required for their operation,” CEO Garuda Aerospace, Agnishwar Jayaprakash told Business Today.
The drones are being used to ferry up to 20 kilos of payloads to flood victims.
“Their ability to operate under any weather condition adds to their versatility,” remarked Jayaprakash.
“Drones are a useful tool for getting real-time assessment and for pinpoint delivery of food and medical supplies to the affected people,” noted joint secretary spearheading the drones division at the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Amber Dubey, adding, “Drones have now become a critical part of every search and rescue operation.”
Garuda Aerospace has been the preferred drone partner for NDRF since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The company’s drones were also used extensively during the Chamoli glacier burst in Uttarakhand last year.
In the aftermath of the Chamoli disaster, services of the company’s drones were also utilised in repairing power lines destroyed in flash floods caused by an avalanche.
“Equipped with 300 drones and over 500 pilots with pan India presence, we are capable of meeting any kind of emergency,” claimed Agnishwar.
Founded in 2015, the company is in the process of closing a $30 million Series A funding round at a $250 million valuation. Former Indian cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has also invested in the startup and become its brand ambassador as well.
MoCA is aggressively promoting the country’s budding drone sector to become a $30-billion industry by 2030. On June 6 the ministry released the second provisional list of beneficiaries under the government’s flagship Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the sector.
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