Several logistics companies in India, such as Delhivery, Blue Dart, and Shadowfax, have started using drones for last-mile deliveries in selective locations. The use of drones in logistics has the potential to reduce delivery times, lower costs, and increase efficiency, especially in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, the use of drones can reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional delivery methods.
Vikram Singh, CEO & Founder, TechEagle Innovations Pvt. shared his thoughts on various aspects of drone technology and talked about the Vertiplane X3, which is the fastest and the longest hybrid e-VTOL drone thar flies at a speed of 120 KMPH. He also gave his insights on the government intervention. Here are the excerpts-
How has TechEagle’s journey been in context with the cargo and logistics industry?
TechEagle started in 2015, when the drones were banned. We have had parallel journeys. One is on the technological development path, one is on the regulatory framework path and then one on how to build the technology, test it, prove it to the robust and eventually scale it as a commercial operation and once you commercially launch it. The entire experience has been enriching in terms of scaling these operations and tackling the challenges.
We are not at a stage where we have launched Vertiplane X3, which is the fastest and longest hybrid e-VTOL drone which flies at 120 KMPH speed and is fully electric. We are also partnering with different government bodies like one in Meghalaya that is in partnership with World Bank and the Government of Meghalaya which is basically Asia’s first structured operational network as of today that we launched on 5th December, 2022. Now we are replicating the same model in different states like Arunachal Pradesh, other north-eastern states and southern states as well.
This particular drone model will host different types of companies like pharmaceutical, e-commerce, logistics and local companies. Basically any D2C company that wants to deliver their products in the fastest way possible to the consumer at the lowest cost. This journey has been very thrilling so far and we would continue addressing the challenges that come in our path.
In the past 8 years, drones have been unbanned. To what extent do you believe the cargo and logistics sector will require the use of drones?
Drone technology overall as an industry for logistics might be at a preliminary stage as people were not building in the last 7-8 years anything substantial outside of India. They were not building the technology. They were just buying, using and trading and hence TechEagle is able to emerge as the leader because we focused on working on the technology that could work on that scale at the time. And now we can proudly say that we have end-to-end tech ecosystem which is enabling our drone delivery network in airlines.
Talking about the requirements and demands of drones in the logistics industry, the demands for it are huge as even now the contracts we have, we are not able to fulfil and hence we are expanding. The demand is definitely huge, it is just that it depends on how one is able to cater with reliability and with the right cost.
How do you see the government intervention now?
The intervention is for the good. The government has taken the step to unban drones after a lot of pushing from people like us. One just can’t bring the policy. One has to bring reforms in the policy and that’s exactly what the government did. So basically there are only 3 components. Your drone needs to get approved, the pilot of the company needs to get approved and the airspace in which you fly needs to get approved. While the airspace has already been defined into categories like green, red and yellow zones. The entire structure is well organised and in place. We make the entire procedure transparent from beginning till the end. In fact, logistics will be the largest segment for the drone industry in the coming years.
Apart from healthcare, what other sectors do you see can make use out of these drones?
The Healthcare sector is basically at the center and is the primary focus where the value add is not just the price but the fact that lives are being saved. Simultaneously, the focus has been on the perishables as well, specially for the farmers that produce in small quantities. Then the crafts segment as every state has their own style of crafts and we can provide them with a much better marketplace. 60 % of the Indians are living in the rural parts of the country and now all companies want to tap into that area, be it amazon. Drones would actually enable that as initially the volume would be low as the drone would carrying low volume. But once everyone starts getting access to the internet, that would change the game.
What’s the scope of drones in the Indian logistics market and what is your take on the existing competition in the market?
In the next 3 to 5 years, you’ll see drones delivering your parcels of either e-commerce, Swiggy, Zomato or anything. The scope is huge and the market is enormous. Talking about the competitiveness between drone logistics and the conventional logistics, the drones wold be comparatively cheaper and faster. Drone logistics would be at least 25% less of cost as compared to the ground logistics. Our vision is to give universal access to the logistics and the healthcare industry.