Unmanned Flying Objects, at your service

The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has completely transformed the software industry over the past few years, with India being one of the leaders in this field.

There is no need to purchase the software but to subscribe to it for a fee, eliminating the hassle of owning and maintaining it. Taking a cue, Drone as a Service (DaaS) is emerging as the next big trend, with many Indian startups springing up in recent months offering drones to customers in various industries, including agriculture, in this model.

Drone services, also known as unmanned aerial vehicle services, are remotely operated or autonomously piloted using software-controlled flight plans in their on-board systems. Its use ranges from candid photography at a wedding, to spraying pesticides, to monitoring oil pipelines in dense forests and places that are difficult for humans to reach.

Like SaaS, in DaaS a farmer or business that wants to use drones regularly does not need to invest in equipment, software or hardware, but can rent it from a service provider. drones on a pay-as-you-go or monthly rental basis.

One such company that offers DaaS is Bengaluru-based VFLYX India for agriculture, survey/mapping, surveillance, inspection of manufacturing units, oil and natural gas industry, solar panels, wind turbines, etc., building construction projects.

According to Vishal Saurav, CEO and Founder of VFLYX India, under the DaaS model, businesses can avail drone services on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, which helps lower their initial investment, enabling them to adopt and benefit more easily from this new technology.

The client offers their specific requirement/application for which they want to deploy the drone for work. After understanding the requirements, the technical team suggests the most suitable and economical drone for the job.

For example, an electricity supply company was facing a problem of electricity theft on power lines. To flush out the culprit, the company offered the power company a drone for a monthly fee to inspect different areas throughout the day. This exercise helped the company stop looting and save large sums of money.

DaaS pricing depends on customization, including the type of drone to be deployed; capacity; technological changes; application and additional features. The price of this type of drone can vary between ₹1.5 lakhs to ₹2.5 lakhs per month. For the agricultural sector, pricing starts from ₹15,000 for each spray session. “Depending on the drone type and configuration, our drone costs ₹4 lakhs and up,” Saurav added.

During the current harvest season, the demand for drones is exceptionally high from farmers. He said the requirements range from pesticide spraying and crop monitoring/analysis to labor shortages and the overall advancement of the agricultural process.

Chennai-based drone startup Garuda Aerospace was an early entrant into the DaaS space to empower Indian farmers and the agricultural industry.

Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace, said, “We strongly believe that the Kisan drone has the power to transform the lives of Indian farmers. We aim to deploy 6 lakh drones in 6 lakh villages in India by 2025. The adoption of drones in the agro-ecosystem can lead to an increase in the agricultural GDP of the country by 1.5% according to financial experts, a- he declared.

Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy, CEO of Bengaluru-based Skylark Drones, said the DaaS industry has matured over the past two years. Previously, DaaS was only about drone hardware. Today, drone services have evolved into software solutions ranging from data acquisition to data processing and providing actionable insights from the processed data.

Skylark Drone caters to over 60 companies in the mining, solar, infrastructure, construction, utilities and agriculture sectors, empowering companies to make business decisions based on Datas. It collects and translates data from construction sites using drones to provide insight into productivity safety and achieve scalable solutions for more innovative planning, faster construction and better sustainability of geographically distributed high-value assets such as roads, solar parks, mines and agricultural fields.

Ramaswamy said Skylark’s DaaS offering contains:

Things like fleet management data acquisition. Pilot network on demand. Data visualization platform. Value-added services such as hydrology and drain design solution and mapping solution.

The SaaS model is rapidly gaining traction with several startups entering this sector due to its potential.

Published on

March 06, 2022

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