When I googled drones in India, the first of the search results says “Want to fly a drone in India?” No, I do not want to do that, but surely I would love my “flying chai” delivered at my doorstep in the morning.
And who is making it possible in India? A tech startup TechEagle Innovations has introduced this quirky concept of delivering tea, even before Amazon could come into the similar frame in India.
The idea behind this spellbinding innovation started from a hostel room in IIT Kanpur and to satiate our thirst behind their startup journey, LifeBeyondNumbers got in touch with Vikram Singh Meena, the Founder & CEO of the company about his perspective and approach on starting a food delivery service via drones.
How did it all happen- a drone delivering Chai?
Vikram Singh: Our startup develops custom drones of both type, rotary wing and fixed wing(60cm to 5-meter wingspan, 30 min to 2 hour flight time, 500gm to 5kg payload). We started working on the various type of drones since 2015, in the garage of IITK Hostel and incorporated TechEagle Innovations Pvt. Ltd. in Jan-2017. We are a B2B tech startup who provides custom drone development (from designing to Manufacturing) to other businesses.
Was the idea hard to conceptualize? Tell us about the doubts you had in mind before going for one of its kind food delivery business?
Vikram Singh: We are a bootstrapped startup. It all began in Nov 2017, when we went to one Startup India program in Lucknow and met other startups. When we were having the brainstorming session on the traffic jam problem in Lucknow, One Food Delivery Startup shared their problem. Their problem was the delay in food delivery because of the traffic jam in Lucknow. So drone delivery came into our mind and we proposed the solution to them and started working on the possibilities.
Watch India’s First Drone to Deliver Chai
Was it by chance or by choice that the company has opted for the food delivery service? How are you funding the project?
Vikram Singh: TechEagle has not opted for Food delivery services, we are a drones manufacturing startup and we do it completely in-house-based on the requirements from the clients. For example, this chai delivery is done for one food delivery startup in Lucknow called OnlineKaka.
Tell us about your first delivery and pilot projects?
Vikram Singh: First we made drones capable to lift that payload and to achieve the flight time. Then we tested the mechanism for pick up and drop the flask. We got the live feed from drone to monitor it so it took some time to increase the range.
Once all the tests for individual tasks were done. We planned the first delivery with OnlineKaka. We took few days to prepare for first delivery so it can be pulled off successfully.
When we reached the location, the wind was blowing at very high speed. So my team had to wait for some time but the wind was the same so I calculated everything and took the decision to go. Finger crossed and the first delivery was 100% successful without any problem. We were happy.
As of now, the delivery has not been opened to the public yet, because to operate in the public domain they will need to wait for the permissions from DGCA.
Drones are introduced keeping in mind the changing lifestyle of urban people or will it reach to rural areas too – in case of emergency food delivery, we mean in bulk?
Vikram Singh: Currently to start with, it will be available in the urban areas only but we are working with Uttrakhand Govt to provide solutions for medicine delivery in rural or remote areas during a disaster or an emergency. Secondly to monitor forest fire.
In the Rural areas, we are working on precision agriculture Drones which can boost the growth in the agriculture sector. They are doing research on Batteries to increase the payload capacity and flight time.
Any future plans regarding expansion of the food delivery business through drones?
Vikram Singh: Yes we are planning with various food delivery companies to expand the drone delivery because it will be faster, efficient and cheaper in the longer run.
There is an internship program the company is about to start. What is it all about? What’s in it for aspiring students who are interested in drone industry?
Vikram Singh: TechEagle has launched DRONE Industrial Training and Internship 2018 for Engineering graduates. This program is all about giving complete practical and theoretical skill set to an engineer so Companies or Startups working in this drone industry can hire them.
There is no prerequisite for the programme and Participants will learn application DRONE Designing, Manufacturing, Radio controlled Flying and how to make and operate autonomous DRONEs.
How do we see drone industry evolving over time?
Vikram Singh: We have seen the industry evolving in past few years gradually and now it is about to take its pace to exponential soon after rolling out the Rules and regulations by DGCA in India. According to Goldman Sachs, Drone industry is worth $125 billion till 2020. In few years every industry will see the significant use of DRONEs. We are about to see the big changes in the Technological world because of DRONEs, IOT and AI.
TechEagle is also partnering with RI Innovations, a Uttrakhand based company to develop disaster management DRONEs to counter forest fire, deliver medicines in the time of urgency. This says the tech startup has a social accountability too!