“Drones have immense potential to assist sustainable development at a scale and modernise the country. They provide employment opportunities for our youth and make Indian industry more efficient and compensated,” India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech on February 1.
Over the last few years, the application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, in several sectors and industries has grown. From food delivery to spraying pesticides over farm fields, drones are now increasingly being put to multiple uses.
According to an estimate by India’s civil aviation ministry, the country’s drone sector is estimated to swell to $2 billion by 2026, as UAVs are being adopted by sectors as diverse as agriculture, defence, law enforcement, transportation, and surveillance.
The global market size for commercial drones is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 16% to more than $58 billion by 2026, according to Statista.
‘A Sunshine year for the drone industry’
Sharing the picture of the Indian market and the growing employment opportunities in the industry, Vikram Singh, CEO & Founder, TechEagle, said, “In India, there are 100 odd OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), 1,000 service providers, on an average one company has 25 employees, which makes it an industry of 25,000 employees. In 2022, the drone industry is set to grow 5X, which will generate an additional 1,00,000 jobs in the country. So, this year will be the sunshine of the drone industry.”
During the 2022 budget speech, Sitharaman advocated the procurement of ‘Kisan Drones’ to help cultivators spray pesticides, assess crops, and digitise land records. According to Sitharaman, drones can be used to enhance agricultural produce in India.
Pool of opportunities and job roles
As the uses of drones have travelled way beyond cinematography and aerial photography, besides designing, a need for the installation of innovative software has surfaced. Consequently, the industry has emerged as a new pool of opportunities for tech workers and students to experiment with. Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy, CEO & co-founder, Skylark Drones, said, “India, being a country of the young software enthusiasts, is going to create a pool of opportunities in the drone industry. A single drone can be used for various functions with just a tweak of the software.”
Vikram Singh of TechEagle said the drone industry, given its explosive growth, has the potential to create numerous job opportunities. The industry would need human resources such as drone operators/pilots, software and App developers, aerospace engineers, AI and vision engineers.
Mughilan of Skylark Drones said that engineering colleges and technical training institutes may have dedicated courses around drone technology. “There will be so many people across the board using drones for different activities,” he said.
Vikram said that the year 2021 was the tipping point, and 2022 is going to witness mass production and use of drones across several industries. He added that promotion of ‘Kisan Drones’ and ‘Drone Shakti’, as envisaged by the Budget 2022, which followed a liberalised Drone Rules 2021 as well as its inclusion in the production-linked incentive scheme will give a fillip to the industry.