Chennai set to get drone borne

Calling out to youngsters, drone lovers, and curious crowds, these stations provide experiential learning to fly these aerial vehicles.
Garuda aerospace show room at Alwarpet in Chennai
Garuda aerospace show room at Alwarpet in Chennai(Photo | Vishnu Dev (intern), EPS)

CHENNAI: Technology and inventions punctuate our everyday lives. From the now-commonplace flickering lightbulb, mobile phones, and speedy metro rails, we hurtle towards an ever-evolving future. Amid this tug-of-war between over-dependence on technology, daily doom-scrolling, and paramount advancements, we recall Arthur C Clarke’s words: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.”

In the spirit of magic, Chennaiites can now visit the country’s first drone showroom-cum-experience center to view leaps in technology and test the latest DGCA-approved drones, off the busy Luz Church Road. Launched on Monday by Garuda Aerospace Pvt Ltd, this 100-odd sq ft space will soon be filled with Virtual Reality stations and simulation centres. Calling out to youngsters, drone lovers, and curious crowds, these stations provide experiential learning to fly these aerial vehicles.

Across the world, drones have had a fascinating growth story and today, are in the starting stages of a cellphone, remarks RN Jayaprakash, chairman of Agni Group. “Now, everybody has started to accept that drones are a growing industry. Unfortunately, drones have become more famous because of the Ukraine and Israel wars but there are hundreds of reasons why they can be positively used…We have supplied more than 650 drones for Namo Drone Didi Yojana, and women agriculturalists are trained to use drones and learn to become entrepreneurs,” he says.

Highlighting the use of drones, the chairman adds that they are used to inspect chimneys, transport medicine, inspect highway, etc. “The big growth story has been in mapping, inspection, agriculture, and photography,” he says. Aiming to bust the myth that drones are inaccessible, the showroom will cater to youngsters and students. This showroom also carries an air of sentimentality as it used to house Jayaprakash’s first business, decades ago.

Droni drone
Droni drone

Fielding the Future

Picture this: a compact unmanned aerial device flying above lush fields, hovering calculatively. With multi-spectral cameras, it soars above collecting data on soil, nutrition, crops, and seasonal growth. Instead of tedious daily toil by man, it spays adequate pesticides and reports to farmers. Garuda’s Hybrid Spraying Drone and Electric Spraying Drone — found in the retail centre — makes this image a reality.

“In the agriculture sector, we are looking at drones as supercomputers in the air. It is fully AI-integrated and captures data in the fields and gives predictive analysis to the farmer. We have tied up with close to 400 Krishi Vigyan Kendra Knowledge Networks and have so far, supplied 2,500 drones,” explains Vijay Kumar, COO of Garuda Aerospace. Among the other varieties of drones is the Droni done, named after cricketer MS Dhoni, an investor. With voice control and an FPV camera, this compact 249 g-drone can be used by security companies, the press, and armed forces, points out Vijay.

In a release shared with CE, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, CEO of Garuda Aerospace, says, “We pride ourselves on the impactful intelligence our drone solutions have to offer...Garuda Aerospace has sold 2,500 drones so far, out of which 2,000 are agri drones. We plan to sell 25,000 agri drones in the next two years and at least 25,000 other consumer drones in the next few years.”

Next on the map, the firm will open up 300 more experiential centers in cities like Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and more. Apart from this, they are currently in talks with Anna University regarding courses related to drones. On the future of drones, Jayaprakash predicts more developments in the next 10 years, and adds, that once the government establishes the drone corridor, the drone industry will develop much faster.

Dr R Velraj, Vice Chancellor, Anna University, was also present at the event.

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