Introduction: Manufacturing Drone & its Components in India
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is another name for an airborne drone, which is a technology that does not need a pilot on board (UAV). Drones are machines that a pilot controls remotely; autonomous drones are now under development. Drones made in India are used in a variety of industries, including defence, recreation, and commerce. The Indian UAV market has the potential to develop into one of the world’s most competitive sectors. The market offers fantastic manufacturing opportunities, which will probably enhance the local competitive environment and increase employment in India.
The Indian UAV market is broadly segmented into the following three categories:
- Original Equipment Manufacturers
- End Users
Fixed wings, rotary wings, combat aerial vehicles, high-altitude long-endurance, medium-altitude long-endurance, and other varieties of UAVs are all available in India. India’s drone producers are continually focusing on product improvement and innovation.
The Central Government under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components. The Ministry of Civil Aviation offers tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy. Almost every sector of the business can profit greatly from drone technology. These include, among others, geospatial mapping, defence, agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, and law enforcement.
The companies that have been shortlisted for incentives under the drone manufacturers category include, Aarav Unmanned Systems Asteria Aerospace, and Throttle Aerospace Systems from Bengaluru, Karnataka; Dhaksha Unmanned Systems and Garuda Aerospace from Chennai, Tamil Nadu; EndureAir Systems and Raphe Mphibr from Noida, Uttar Pradesh; Ideaforge Technology, Mumbai, Maharashtra; IoTechWorld Avigation and Omnipresent Robot Technologies from Gurugram, Haryana; and Sagar Defence Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra.
The companies shortlisted for incentives under the drone component manufacturers category include Absolute Composites, Bengaluru, Karnataka; Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India, Hyderabad, Telangana; Adroitec Information Systems, New Delhi; Alpha Design Technologies, Bengaluru, Karnataka; Dynamake Engineering, Hyderabad, Telangana; Imaginarium Rapid, Mumbai, Maharashtra; SASMOS HET Technologies, Bengaluru, Karnataka; Servocontrols Aerospace India, Belagavi, Karnataka; Valdel Advanced Technologies, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
On May 4, 2022, the Ministry issued an invitation to interested manufacturers, and the deadline for submission was May 20, 2022. The shortlisted enterprises’ aggregate yearly sales turnover climbed from Rs 88 crore in FY 2020–21 to Rs 319 crore (unaudited) in FY 2021–22.
Drone and Drone Components hasn’t been included in the National Industrial Classification (2008). However, Stakeholders have asked the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to include specific activities and provide explanation on the National Industrial Classification (NIC) code.
The requests pertain to the NIC codes being expanded to include Drone Manufacturing, ‘Portable Petrol Pump/Portable Service, Biomass Pellet Manufacturing, and Technical Textile (Packtech). The Office of the Development MSME has instructed R K Parmar, Deputy Director (Policy), to make reference to the many requests from stakeholders that have been received by the office.
According to the Ministry of Statistics and Program (MoSPI), the corresponding five-digit industries for the manufacture of drones, portable gasoline pumps, manufacturing of biomass pellets, and technical textiles are 26515, 47300, 38300, and 13999, respectively (Packtech).
Usage of Drones
The government is actively using the services of drone service providers for the delivery of vaccines, inspection of oil pipelines and power transmission lines, anti-locust operations, agricultural spraying, survey of mines, land mapping under SWAMITVA scheme for issuance of digital property cards, etc. Drone Training Schools have also been established across several States, which have the potential to be a real game – changer in the promotion and development of aviation technology.
Drone based surveillance system introduced for Railway Security Survey of India to use drones for mapping of inhabited areas of villages under “SVAMITVA” scheme. India deployed drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. The ICMR-led pilot project is being rolled out in Manipur, Nagaland and Andamans and Nicobar Islands. It was used for surveillance of COVID-19 hotspots and containment zones to ensure strict compliance of lockdown guidelines. The system has been demonstrated to the Chandigarh Police in a containment zone.
Production of Drones
India has the potential to become a worldwide drone hub by 2030 given its historical strengths in innovation, information technology, cost-effective engineering, and its enormous domestic demand. Over the next three years, the manufacturing of drones and drone component parts in India has the potential to bring in investments of Rs. 5,000 crore (US$ 632.6 million). This will improve domestic manufacturing there and add more than 10,000 direct employment.
Raw materials required for production include Carbon fibre-reinforced composites (CRFCs); Thermoplastics such as polyester, nylon, polystyrene, etc.; Aluminium; and, Lithium ion batteries. Drones must be able to create enough upward push to overcome their own weight in order to fly, hence choosing materials for a drone is primarily driven by the desire to reduce its mass.
Every gram of material used to make a drone costs energy to lift, and every gram that can be saved improves performance:
- Increased cargo capacity
- Extended flying time
- Reduced inertia and improved manoeuvrability
This process of selecting materials and designing components to minimise mass is called “lightweighting”. This gives us the most important material property selection criteria: minimising mass by selecting low-density materials.
- Part-by-part Breakdown- Drones are intricate machines made up of various parts that function together. When choosing materials for each portion, different factors are taken into account because each component performs a particular purpose. To minimise weight and maximise performance, a drone’s component parts must each take into account the material density.
- The Frame: holding it all together- A drone’s frame gives it shape and secures all of the subsystems. The most crucial material quality for the frame is strength because it performs a mechanical function. Thermoplastics, such as variations of nylon, polyester, and polystyrene, are common options for commercial drones because they are affordable to produce into intricate parts using injection moulding techniques.
- Motors and propellers: lifting off- A drone cannot take off or move if there is no source of thrust. Drones are propelled by standard electric motors with permanent magnets and copper windings. It is possible to choose a motor housing material that has a strong strength-to-weight ratio, such as an aluminium alloy or a thermoplastic. But motors can produce a lot of heat. In order to help the motor stay cool, the housing might be made of materials with a high thermal conductivity, such as aluminium.
Batteries: The power to fly- Modern multirotor drones are made possible by advancements in battery technology, which may be the most significant of all drone components. When building mechanical components, strength-to-weight ratios are taken into account, and the weight of the battery can be used to gauge battery performance.
- Microcontrollers and Cameras: Smarter drones- Drones can function as flying computers thanks to the same improvements in microprocessor technology that made it feasible to construct the modern smartphone. Drones use many of the same chips (Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Arm, etc.) that are used in smartphones.
Drones are able to perform more complex jobs with less supervision as they become smarter. Currently, this allows drones to fly autonomously along specified pathways and collect data from a wider variety of sensors. However, scientists are developing the skills necessary to train drones to carry out ever-more difficult jobs by themselves.
Nowadays, drones seem to be everywhere. They are involved in the production of movies, acting in them, assisting in the sale of real estate, broadcasting sports, developing new sports, working in factories and farms, chasing other drones, and possibly even delivering parcels soon. Drones will continue to revolutionise a wide range of industries as materials, artificial intelligence, and microcontrollers advance.
Ananya Khar is a Research Intern at Tatvita. Presently she is pursuing his bachelors in the Liberal Arts department at the Savitribai Phule Pune University.