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SMART MANUFACTURING Creating solutions around data intelligence

Nov 26, 2018

Ankit Mehta, Founder, ideaForge, in this interview with Suchi Adhikari, gives his insights on the future of the drone industry and the significance and primary applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the current market. Excerpts…

What was the idea behind launching ideaForge?

ideaForge was started by a bunch of IIT Bombay graduates whose passion and drive for autonomous robotics helped them to start the Unmanned Systems business. The inspiration to start the venture came after the Mumbai attacks of 2008, when the team realised that they had the technology which could neutralise the terrorists but did not have a ready product to deploy. In 2009, they made the first fully autonomous drone in the country.

Your venture manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which is a niche market segment in India. What were the early challenges that you encountered when you started out with your venture?

Even in adverse investment and market impression for hardware start-ups serving the defense and government sector, ideaForge has developed into a high value enterprise. We have ensured that every dollar was spent in creating a long-term sustainable advantage.

Can you brief us on the applications of UAVs? What are some of the industry verticals where UAVs are being utilised?

When it comes to the UAVs in military operations, military usage of drones or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems) has become the primary use in today’s world. UAVs have emerged in modern day warfare to play a dominant role in surveillance, intelligence-gathering and dissemination of information. In the agricultural sector, UAVs are used to monitor soil erosion, gauge crop maturity, mitigate frost and study crop cycle. With the help of UAVs, we can do precision agriculture. This is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.

UAVs can also help to save wildlife and protect the environment by revolutionising the way conservation research is conducted all over the world. It can be used to monitor and study growth of forest, species and wildlife. Further, UAVs can be effectively used in disaster management and relief operations, like, pre-disaster activity, activity immediately after the occurrence of a disaster and the activity after the primary disaster elimination. Drones can also be used as part of crowd control to supply real-time information about the movement of the crowd. It helps authorities to monitor crowd and avoid extreme events proactively. UAVs also play an important role in infrastructure inspection.

What new technologies do you foresee coming up in the future in your business sector? What are the kind of projects you would hope to see more of?

The future of the drone industry will be creating solutions around data intelligence. Drones are exceptional at gathering high-resolution and precise data. However, they do not form part of the complete solution. Building intelligence on top of this data is going to be what drives the industry forward. The drone technology will exist as part of a larger overall solution, giving actionable intelligence to users, thus, giving true end-to-end value.

Can you share the strategies that your company is implementing in order to expand its market share? What are your venture’s short-term & long-term goals?

Having focused on armed forces for a while, we are steering the company towards also addressing the needs of enterprise applications, such as, GIS Mapping, precision agriculture and inspections. ideaForge believes that the future lies in delivering complete solutions to businesses and therefore, is also looking to partner or augment upstream and downstream elements for the complete package. Establishing a stronger presence in enterprise market and entering the international market is our long-term goal.

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