The new drone policy will come into effect on 1st of December and we are doing series to put the spotlight on interesting drone based solutions and startups. In this part, we talk to Anshul Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, Redwing Aerospace Laboratories. Redwing Aerospace Laboratories is an aerial robotics startup focusing on logistics, defence and enterprise solutions. The founders of Redwing Aerospace Laboratories are one of the most awarded aerospace engineers in the country with awards from NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, NTU Singapore and MIT Massachusetts.
1. The new drone policy will soon come into force. How satisfied are you with that and what other changes are still needed?
Regulations are definitely a big step forward, compared to the previous blanket ban. Line of sight operations(LOS) such as in infrastructure, agriculture and surveying are easily adoptable in the current regulations 1.0.
However, our quest for the perfect regulations has delayed this entire process by at least 3 years. Also introduction of UIN, mandatory insurance, hardware compliances etc will shoot up the cost of owning hardware. Implementation of these laws will really tell us how this industry is going to move.
2. Tell us about Redwing Labs. Which are the sectors you are looking to engage? Who will be your customers and what sort of scale do you anticipate?
We at Redwing Aerospace Labs are focusing on the next evolution of drones. Till now, we’ve had essentially 2 configurations of drones: a multicopter and a fixed wing. Multicopters are used for HOVER mainly while fixed wings are used for CRUISE modes.
We’ve created a HYBRID VTOL UAS which allows us to cover a larger spectrum namely logistics, maritime surveillance and guerrilla warfare. These applications have no landing spaces and requires large areas to be covered at the same time.
We’re already working with Oceanian and Pacific Governments for the logistics segment. For defence we’re serving the Indian Intelligence agencies. In the coming months, we’re targeting some more international governments and oil & gas companies.
3. How does India fare globally when it comes to drone adoption? The defence sector is one of your target areas of operation. What are the opportunities and challenges of using drones in the defence sector?
India is currently 2-3 years behind the global adoption trend.
Defence has great opportunities. The challenge when dealing with defence is the capital requirement to match their expectations. But defence has higher volumes compared to other sectors.
4. Tell us about your initiative to deliver blood in rural areas.
We’ve been working on solving one of the biggest healthcare logistics problem in the country by using drones, data science and cloud-based inventory management system. Bloodstream eliminates the imbalance of healthcare supplies in a country by delivering blood on demand 4 times faster than existing methods.
We’ve done 19 demonstrations in India and Nepal. International governments such as Pacific and Oceanic have responded much faster and in the coming 6 months, our systems will be engaged there.
5. You are one of the newest drone startups in India. What is your view about the competition vis a vis opportunity in this technology? What will you advise to others looking to join the sector?
There are more than 35 drone startups in the country currently. The older approach of buying DJI Phantom and using Pix4D for mapping projects is not scalable anymore. The barrier to entry is much higher when a startup is looking for scale. There needs to be a fundamental USP alongside end to end solutions for startups looking to capture a specific vertical.
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