Reliance Industries has put together an aggressive plan to build its drone business, which includes expanding production capacity, participating in new drone production incentives, and experimenting with limited logistics payloads to deliver goods.
The goal is to become a major player in the projected $ 5 billion market in India by the end of the decade.
The drone business is run by Bangalore-based startup Asteria Aerospace, with Reliance taking the majority.
Asteria Aerospace Limited is one of India’s largest drone manufacturers and drone-based solution providers. For the past 10 years, Asteria has been producing top-notch, high-performance, reliable and rugged drones. Asteria provides end-to-end drone-as-a-service solutions using drone hardware, software and field operations in areas such as safety, energy and utilities, agriculture, GIS, construction and mining. Our products and solutions are widely used by the Indian Armed Forces, Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies, civil government agencies and private sector companies.
Asteria Aerospace is a subsidiary of Geo Platforms Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, India’s largest private sector company.
Neel Mehta Director and Co-founder of Asteria Aerospace. Early worked as Systems Engineer (Flight Controls) at Rockwell Collins. has an upbeat assessment of the world and Indian drone market.
The upcoming two-time global drone request (banning large military drones) is about $ 20 billion ($ 20,000 million) and thus the Indian request is about $ 200 million to $ 1000 million, which is about 4-5 percent of the worldwide pie.
“It will rise to $ 5000 million by the decade’s closing. We plan to acquire a significant share of this market,” he said.
With the government opening the commercial drone sector in 2018 by removing an earlier ban, Mehta says the ratio between military and commercial drones will change from 70:30 to 30:70 over the next two years.
Asterias estimates that 50,000-60,000 commercial drones will be in the sky in two years in India and the company is investing in its Bangalore plant to expand its capacity to 2,000 to 10,000 drones annually.
However, he points out that for Asteria, drone hardware accounts for only 30 percent of its revenue.
It is a service business drone that accounts for the rest.
This includes providing end-to-end solutions for companies involved in operating and running the drone, collecting and analysing data, and providing services to the client on the same platform.
Mehta says Astoria will participate in the Drone Production Linked Incentive (PLI) project with a corpus of Rs 120 crore to promote the sector.
“We’ll surely grasp advantage of the PLI scheme and the Rs 120 crore will be applied in exactly two times,” said Mehta.
In the commercial field, Astoria operates in many areas, such as the Reliance oil and gas pipeline, where much surveillance and maintenance is being carried out by helicopters and drones that replace humanitarian security.
However, when it comes to last-mile delivery by drones, Mehta believes it will take another five to six years to become a commercial reality.
“Given the new modes of business assignment and thus the numerous security diligence, we do not see the lowest rule allowing it in any case.”
“And you can’t have more drones in the sky,” he said.
Nonetheless, there are opportunities in logistics, especially in healthcare drones with payloads of 5-10 kilograms, to transport critical drugs from one location to another, especially in mountainous areas. Mehta says Asteria is open to this opportunity and to build such drones.
They say drones can be used to transport mid-mile logistics from one hub to another. For this to work, it requires drones with a flight path of 200 kilometres and the ability to carry heavy payloads.
“Currently, military drones cost you $ 100 million for transportation logistics.
Mehta says foreign companies are working to cut costs and disrupt the market.
Asteria drones have a localization level of 60-65 percent.
They share the supply chain with electric vehicle and mobile device component manufacturers because there is so much synergy in the fields of batteries, electric motors and camera modules.
sources: Asteria Aerospace / Rediff.com