Apart from government departments, it also works with several private sector companies such as L&T, Vedanta, Gamesa, International Flavors & Fragrances, Scania, Sterlite Power and mobility technology
The corona killer
With the killer virus spreading rapidly, the Tamil Nadu government began using Garuda's drones to spray disinfectants in Chennai Corporation areas and government hospitals on March 23. Following this, the company bagged orders from Varanasi Smart City, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to deploy drones for sanitising several parts of the city.
The firm has seen the demand for its drones grow three-fold after Covid-19 started spreading. Prior to this Garuda was dependent on government and infrastructure companies for business. The decline in Chinese imports and the quality offered by Indian players has increased the demand for indigenous drones. Garuda Aerospace was earlier supplying to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board for critical power infrastructure projects and State Forest department to track and distract wild animals from entering into human habitats. But today, it has requests from 12 States including Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, among others, for sanitisation, monitoring of crowd and usage of loudspeaker to disseminate official communication. Each drone can cover 20 kilometers (on a single charge) and carry up to 20 litres. The company is also using drones fitted with loudspeakers to help police make public announcements and monitor implementation of Section 144.
The drones, which it calls as Corona Killer 100 (CK100), can operate 12 hours at a stretch flying up to a height of 150 meters. CK 100 drones are equipped with thermal sensing to help the officials manage crowds and identify people with elevated body temperatures, who could possibly have contracted the virus.
"We have received interest for around 2,000 drones in India. But, our capacity is 100 drones a month, which means it would take at least 20 months to deliver the entire lot,” Jayaprakash said. This apart, the company is also learnt to have received interests for around 1,500 drones from Spain, Brazil and the US. “So for the overseas interests, we have said that we will serve based on our ability to expand operations amid the lockdown."
The company is in talks with investors to raise $15 million for the next stage of development to offer drone delivery services and others.
The drones it makes are 80 per cent automated and, like large aircraft, can go autopilot most of the time. Chinese drones with fewer capabilities and a price advantage had made a mark in the Indian market. But now with Covid-19 posing such a huge problem, Garuda is likely to have an edge.
Uberisation of drones
Garuda Aerospace is also launching a drone aggregator service across 26 cities. It aims to offer services such as spraying disinfectants to fight Covid-19. The company aims to launch an app called 'Garuda' which will have a network of around 4,000 drones and 6,500 pilots. In the Covid-19 fight, it can offer various drone-related services including disinfecting private properties. "We want to be the Uber of drones," said Jayaprakash.