Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports and Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur on Tuesday inaugurated the Garuda Aerospace-led ‘Drone Yatra’ at Agni College of Technology in Thalambur, Tamil Nadu.
Through the yatra, the Tamil Nadu-based company, which is also a PLI scheme beneficiary, aims to cover all 775 districts of the country within the next 75 days.
In an exclusive interview, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace, told News18: “We have 30 teams that will cover these 775 districts with equipment vans. In each of these vans, there will be drones, pilots and instructors and they will be hosting drone skilling and training conferences in every district — a minimum of two conferences in colleges and schools.”
Why This Yatra
According to Garuda Aerospace’s CEO, “the goal is to ensure awareness of drone technology among youngsters in the country”.
Jayaprakash also believes that the skills in emerging technologies like drones, automation, AI or machine learning are extremely useful in order to find a job.
“Someone who has the skills to set and apply drones, capture data, process data and can give some useful information that can increase efficiency or reduce expenses for any client/stakeholder adds tremendous value,” he said.
He added: “On an average, drone pilots earn a minimum of Rs 75k-1.2 lakh per month. This can be a job opportunity in which approximately one lakh youngsters will be able to get employment free of cost.”
In the agriculture sector, drones have assisted in increasing food crop productivity, reducing crop loss, and protecting farmers and labourers from harmful chemicals used in pesticide spraying.
“Farmers save time and money by using drones and they get better results because a drone uses 30 per cent less pesticide and has built-in indigenous software and firmware technology that boosts efficiency, precision, and crop yield by 27 per cent,” said Jayaprakash.
He also noted that the quality of the spray improves as the drone becomes smarter and collects more data.
Additionally, as per the CEO, Garuda Aerospace is working on an asset-based, UBER-style aggregation model in which rural entrepreneurs buy drones and act as service providers, with loans and subsidies providing demand.
“Farmers can even earn more with the use of Agri Drones and get guaranteed drone loans and 100 per cent subsidy. Garuda Aerospace is the only company with banking partners that has unsecured loans worth Rs 10-15 lakh with a 5 per cent interest rate and a three-month grace period,” he said.
Jayaprakash believes that farmers will be able to teach their children to pilot drones, which will increase employment opportunities in rural India.
Drone Tech in Defence
Drones have also widely been used in stealth surveillance and surgical strikes for several years but in terms of public awareness of their usage, Jayaprakash said it has increased as a result of media coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The company has been working on armed tactical drones, anti-drones, long-range surveillance UAVs, weaponised drones, communication tethered drones and Payload Capacity Drones for troop supply delivery.
In recent years, Garuda Aerospace has also developed all these indigenously for the Indian defence forces.
“We have demonstrated our capabilities to the DRDO, CISF, CRPF, Indo-Tibetan border force, NDRF, BSF, and the Army Design Bureau. We are currently in discussions with leading aerospace and defence contractors looking for Indian manufacturers that are capable of offset manufacturing,” he said.
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