Updated March 9th, 2024 at 17:01 IST

From food to health: Drone delivery for the last mile

Homegrown drone logistics company TechEagle recently collaborated with AIIMS for delivery to 10 centres in a month’s timeframe

Reported by: Business Desk
Drone | Image:Needpix
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Drone delivery: On-demand drone delivery company TechEagle is planning to expand overseas, focusing on urban deliveries, including e-commerce, last-mile, and hyperlocal deliveries, according to founder and CEO Vikram Singh.

Founded in 2017, the company was incubated in IIT Kanpur, creating comprehensive drone technology, including hardware, software, and autonomous control with artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G communication onboard.

Drones in Healthcare

Recently, the company’s BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) drones completed deliveries to 10 AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) and INIs (Institutes of National Importance) in a span of 30 days.

On the requirements for healthcare deliveries, Singh said, “Our drones are equipped to maintain cold chain requirements, capable of transporting medical payloads within specified temperature ranges, including passive cooling and even sub-zero temperatures. This ensures the safe delivery of critical healthcare supplies over long distances while minimising costs.”

The drones manufactured by TechEagle also have a range of up to 100 kilometres, which are capable of delivering payloads at speeds of 120 kilometres per hour to deliver within the first hour of need, he added.

This is important in terms of medical logistics for healthcare being a time-sensitive sector. 

The Sky of Opportunities

Drone solutions in India are being explored in domains of agriculture, energy and utilities, infrastructure, mining, insurance and the entertainment and media industry.  

In 2021, quick-commerce players Swiggy and Dunzo were among the 20 companies that received clearance from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India for experimental BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) drone operations. 

On the drone landscape in India, Singh said they have collaborated extensively with regulators for formalising drone rules and commercialising services in over 10 states.

Their clients include the World Bank, logistics firms, hyperlocal businesses, and educational institutions.

The drone industry is categorised in terms of visual line of sight (VLOS) and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). While the former requires the drone user/pilot to maintain visual contact with the aircraft at all times during its operation, the other allows for covering far greater distances.

There is also a bifurcation in indigenous and imported drones, and shorter range and heavy-duty drones.

Drone imports in India have been banned by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2022.

Singh said this gives their technology stack of Drone as a hardware, and software, an edge over other players.       

Taking a different route

On reports of drone crash incidents during logistics delivery, Singh said redundancy in drone design, with redundant propulsion systems and communication networks in their drones ensures their trustworthiness even after component failure. 

“This approach differs from competitors who repurpose drones meant for other industries, leading to accidents,” he said.

TechEagle has zero incident flights over distances exceeding 30,000 kilometres, Singh added.

As a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat policy, the Government approved the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme with an allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years for drones and drone components in 2021.

Leveraging the potential of this sunrise sector, TechEagle is also eyeing investments for advancement.

In terms of funding, Singh said the company has secured investments from venture capitalists and will “reveal further details in due course.” 

“Additionally, we're developing new products to enhance our capabilities, particularly in delivering larger cargo volumes,” he added.

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Singh expects significant growth over the next two years in drone-based deliveries, marking a transformative shift in logistics operations.

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Published March 9th, 2024 at 15:38 IST