We have been hearing about the drone revolution for a couple of years now. Nothing has helped the drone industry more than the Covid 19 pandemic. India is the fastest-growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to the Indian Drone Market Report 2019-2024 by Drone Industry Insights. The global drone market is expected to cross $43 billion in 2024, up from $14 billion in 2018, the report said. The government has stepped in at the right time to help the industry take another leap forward by launching a Production Linked Initiative(PLI) scheme. This scheme offers an incentive of 20% of the value addition made by a manufacturer of drones and drone components. The government expects the incentive to see an investment of over Rs 5,000 crore over the next three years beginning current fiscal. According to a statement by the aviation ministry, the drone manufacturing sector is expected to create more than 10,000 direct jobs over the course of next 3 years. This scheme will bring down the prices of drones further and incentivize foreign investment in this sector as well.


Indian Drone Start-ups

Indian Drone Startups 1

With the rise in automation, drones, or the unmanned aerial vehicles have become deployable in several industries and can perform different functions. A wide range of innovative drone solutions have come up as a result of rising demand for drones in the market which has driven innovators. Some of the most prominent Indian drone start-ups have been discussed below.

Aarav Unmanned Systems(AUS) is a start-up which provides drone solutions for enterprises and is currently working from Bengaluru. AUS is constantly setting world-class technology benchmarks because of the continuous efforts on Drone Intelligence, Hardware optimization & Design innovation. Having served key players across various verticals both for the private and public sectors, AUS is a company that has already the undisputed leader of commercial drones in India. It originated out of IIT Kanpur in 2013 and has risen several notches above the rest in recent years. AUS is backed by firms such as GrowX, 500 Startups, Valpro, StartupXseed etc. which adds to its credibility.

DroniTech is a drone service provider based in Mumbai offering multiple services ranging from aerial photography and industrial inspections etc. to other such services. In addition, the company uses its in-house developed drone management software to manage, monitor, and process the images collected by the drones. Founded in 2018, it has been growing steadily.

Terra Drone India is a startup founded in 2018 and currently located in Pune, provides cloud based 3D image sensors for topographical survey and inspection. It also offers multi-antenna GNSS LiDAR systems for plant height assessment, asset mapping, power line sag inspection, and topographical mapping. This organization also offers cloud-based software for the processing and visualization of captured data. So, the basic services it offers are providing drones for end to end topographical surveys.

Detect Technologies, incubated in 2016 at the IIT Madras Research Park, with the aim to assist process industries in driving digital transformation for asset integrity solutions. An intelligent drone for reliable inspection of assets- is the first of its kind truly automated drone. As the assets differ in sizes and locations, Noctua can be programmed to cater to specific requirements of each equipment such as columns, vessels, reactors, etc. This flight path is repeatable with extreme precision making it a truly repeatable periodic inspection.



Trends and Growth

Trends and Growth


Chief Executive of Skylark Drones recently stated in an interview that foreign investors have been eyeing the Indian drone market and will make significant investments in the near future because of the growing drone market in India. Bengaluru based start-up Skylark Drones has witnessed a 3 times growth in sales and is planning to double its team of 30. They will also be looking to partner with drone pilot training institutes to train their own pilots.[i]

Aarav Unmanned Systems plans to add 500 people to its organization by the next year. Most of these new positions will be filled with drone pilots but some positions will be filled by other personnel as well namely engineering and fabrication manufacturing teams.

Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice-president at executive search firm TeamLease Services, said niche jobs such as drone photographer and filmmaker, drone 3-D modeler, drone pilot trainer, precision agriculture surveyor, drone surveillance, search and rescue, and wildlife conservation jobs would also open up in the sector in the long term.

India is one of the fastest growing markets for drones according to a report by Drone Industry Insights 2019-2024. There are a lot of new opportunities opening up where drones can be put to use. The main increase in demand is seen in the entertainment, agriculture, defense and surveillance sectors. Skye Air Mobility, which is working on making a business case for drone deliveries, is in conversations with multiple hospital chains. The company is in talks with several North East states to deliver drones as part of their trials. They are already doing that with Blue Dart and Flipkart on a trial basis.

All of these companies are trying to explore new territories to put the drone technology to use. Defence is one of the key areas especially after a recent drone attack in the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir region.

The new Drone Rules

The new drone rules

The Ministry of Civil Aviation published liberalized drone rules repealing the earlier rules perceived to be causing hindrance to the growth of the drone industry in India.[ii]

Key features of Drone Rules-

1. Application

(i) the drones which are either registered or operating in India and (ii) the people who possesses, own or engage in the leasing, in operating, transferring or in maintaining any drone in our country. The New Rules that are passed should not apply to the drones which belong to or which are used by naval, military or air forces. These New Rules gives a further clarification that Aircraft Rules 1937 will not apply to any Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) except only for UAS with the maximum all-up-weight of approximately more than 500 kilograms.

2.Classification and Certification-

The New Rules enforced also provides a brief matrix for analyzing the category, sub-category as well as classification on the basis of maximum weight which includes payload of drones. On the basis of this detailed matrix, each and every drone operating in our country is required to have a type certification as well as a unique identification number. On an interesting note, this type certification is not necessary for manufacturing or for importing drones in India.

3. Mandatory Safety Features-

According to the rule 12 of New Rules, the Central Government can prescribe certain mandatory safety features in future which can be installed on a UAS and they may include some features like – (i) including no permission, like, no take-off hardware as well as firmware, (ii) Real-time beacon which communicates the drone’s speed, it’s altitude, as well as its unique identification number, and (iii) the geo-fencing capability.

4. Digital Sky Platform-

In order to reduce the human interface along with delay which is attributable to our bureaucratic procedures, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has devised something known as the digital sky platform. This digital sky platform works as a one sided window for the registration of drones along with a window for generating approvals automatically. Nodal officers of the State Governments, the Union Territory Administrations as well as the law enforcement agencies should be given a direct access to this digital sky platform. New Rules that are passed requires each and every drone to go through certain standards that are prescribed by Quality Council of India to obtain a airworthiness certificate. These standards can promote the use of original technologies, the designs, components and drones together with the Indian regional navigation satellite system also known as Navigation with Indian Constellation or NavIC.

5. Classification of Zones and Traffic Management-

These new sets of rules divide the airspace into categories like, green, yellow, and red zones. The drones are permitted to operate in only the green zone without any prior permission. On the other hand, for the yellow and red zones, these drones require certain permissions to fly. The Central Government of India shall publish a policy structure within the next sixty days of date of notification of the Rules in respect for Unmanned Aircraft System for the Traffic Management System (UTM System) on digital sky platform. The UTM can enable the traffic management of these drones through air, ground, or even space based communications, navigation, as well as surveillance.

6. Reduced Compliance Requirements-

Newly passed rules make a significant change when it comes to decreasing lengthy list of the compliances as were present in the Old Rules. Several approvals have been abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot license, remote pilot instructor authorization, drone port authorization etc. have all been done away with.  Number of forms have been reduced from 25 to 5 and the types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.

7.  Remote Pilot License-

These new rules which are passed makes it mandatory that no person other than the holder of a valid remote pilot license which is listed on digital sky platform and can operate a UAS. The remote pilot license should basically set the details of all category, sub-category, together with classification of the UAS for which this license should be issued. Moreover, we can use nano drones for all kinds of use, and micro drones for only non-commercial use for the requirements of a remote pilot are exempted.

8. Research, Development, and Testing-

Newly passed rules exempt few persons which are engaged in research work, development as well as testing of the UAS from the requirements of the type certificate, the unique identification number, a prior permission and the remote pilot licence for the operation of UAS.



As is already clear, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, commonly known as drones, offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy alike- agriculture, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, mining, transportation, law enforcement etc. to name a few. Their uses will only increase in the future. Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas. In view of its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and huge domestic demand, India certainly has the potential to become a global drone hub by the end of this decade.

The growth in jobs in this particular sector can be noticed. Most new jobs are for drone pilots but the jobs in other areas have also risen significantly. It is an opportunity to invite foreign investment for the growth of domestic drone industry. The new entrepreneurs in India must take note of this and try and take advantage of this growing sector. The government has also stepped in and relaxed the rules and made certain policy decisions which will help the industry grow.



[ii] https://tracxn.com/explore/Drones-Startups-in-India


[ii] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/startups/drone-companies-step-up-offerings-hiring-after-pli-scheme/articleshow/86720678.cms


[ii] https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1749154



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