Hello all. We had our last blogpost in October 2016. We are coming back after a gap of 3.5 years. We didn’t exactly disappear as there were the occasional news articles (Print, Online and Radio) about our work and accomplishments. We were just too caught up with our new direction we took in 2017. This post is a recap of all that we were upto with a hint on what we will be working on in the future.
As you know, we started THANOS in May 2016 as an Aerial Surveying company using UAVs/Drones to capture images and process them into useful insights for our customers. By Mid 2017, we realized that Aerial Surveying as an application has become extremely easy to execute with very little entry barrier. Commercial drones such as DJI Phantom were becoming affordable, highly reliable and easy to operate. Cloud based or desktop based Image Processing and Analytics platforms such as DroneDeploy, Pix4D, Skycatch and Bentley also started become widely popular. Aerial Surveying space was becoming extremely competitive and difficult to differentiate. The difference in the future seemed to lie in either the Drone Platforms that you used (accuracy, resolution, coverage area per day) and the actionable analytics that you can provide to your customers.
Shifting our focus, we decided to work in niche areas where there is huge scope to solve problems and show discernible difference. We started looking for problems where we could utilize our in-house capability to design and build high quality UAVs/Drones. Luckily, an important application was presented to us by the end users/beneficiaries – FARMERS. Agriculture in India is an activity that still involves huge amount of manual work or drudgery. A special place in these activities is held by Pesticide Spraying which is not only extremely arduous but also hazardous and inefficient owing to the nature of the work. We conducted surveys and spoke to multiple farmers and realized that this was a ubiquitous problem across India. We identified 3 key problems plaguing Agricultural Spraying – Dwindling Manual Labour Availability, Inefficient Manual Labour Spraying and Health Hazards.
In December 2017, we came public at AP Agritech Summit with our first product – Agricultural Spraying Drone of 5 Litre capacity to counter the problems mentioned above. The feedback we got from the farmers at the exhibition and the demonstrations we carried out over the next few months resulted in a much more refined and increased capacity Spraying Drone of 10 Litre capacity with a few intelligent features such as Radar for Terrain Following and GPS for Autonomous Spraying. Fast-forward to today, we have worked with more than 50 farmers, sprayed over more than 500 acres and worked with some of the largest Agrichemical companies in the World such as Bayer, Syngenta, Coromandel among others. Check out our 10 Litre Spraying Drone – SYENA Q10 product page for more details about its technical aspects and capabilities
Custom Drones and Drone Repairs
During the period January 2018 to now, we built several custom drones for institutions such as IIT Hyderabad, IIIT Hyderabad, TCS and others for various applications. During the same period, we’ve also configured and repaired countless number of drones for our customers who included College Students, Military Personnel, Aerial Surveying companies to name a few. We repaired Custom-built as well as Commercial drones such as DJI Phantom, DJI Mavic and DJI Inspire. Check out more about our Custom Drone and Drone Repair capabilities here.
Whenever a new technology is introduced, it is important to demonstrate how it works and how the benefits of it can be realized by the end users. This is especially true of technologies which have a slight learning curve and which are introduced into domains such as Agriculture where technology penetration is still low. Keeping this in mind, we started doing Drone Spraying Trials and Demonstrations across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra since early 2018. We have so far covered around 35 locations in these 3 states and raised awareness about this technology and its potential. Below is Map showing a non-exhaustive list of Trial/Demo locations. Simultaneously, we have done Commercial Pilots in a few locations to understand the Economic Potential and Commercialization methodologies to adopt to ensure large scale adoption of this technology.
Check out Services page to know more about our work on this front and the various modes in which we engage with our customers. We are currently awaiting certification of our SYENA-Q10 and Agricultural Spraying Guidelines to be put in place by Ministry of Agriculture in coordination with DGCA so that we can scale up this technology.
Drone Olympics Win
We had a major achievement in February 2019 when our team won the Supply Drop Challenge at the Inaugural Drone Olympics conducted by MoD as part of Aero India Show at Bengaluru. Our Payload Delivery Prototype (picture below) accomplished the task of delivering 2 Kg of Payload over a 2 km distance in a highly precise and consistent manner thus winning the challenge. Post the Drone Olympics win, the media coverage about our win spread throughout India and we started getting enquiries from various divisions of Indian army and from the farthest corners of the country. While we did not have enough resources to get into the same immediately, it definitely gave us validation that Payload Delivery is a very sought after application and it gave us a huge boost to work on an upgraded market-ready version. Our Awards Page talks a bit more about various Recognitions and Achievements we had until now.
We would be remiss to not mention the various companies we partnered with during the last few years. In order to make our 10 L Spraying Drone platform (SYENA-Q10) more field-ready, we worked with global Agrichemical companies such as Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Coromandel and others. We also worked with drone service companies such as Marut Dronetech to bring in unconventional applications of Spraying Drones such as Urban Pest Control/Mosquito Control. We helped MARUT in first half of 2019 to conduct Pilots and Demonstrations for GHMC for Mosquito Control using our SYENA-Q10 Spraying Platform to spray Larvicides and other chemicals on lakes such as in Miyapur, Gachibowli-Nanakramguda, Kondapur and in parts of Musi River. We are also working with them during the current COVID-19 on applications such as Crowd Monitoring, Medical Delivery, Disinfectant Spraying among others using our in-house designed and built Aerial Platforms.
We’ve been widely reported over the last few years owing to the demonstrations of our Aerial Platforms or the Awards we have won. We are thankful to all media houses and all forms of media (Print, Online and Radio) for covering our work and for inviting us to share our journeys on TV (Doordarshan) & Radio (All India Radio). Our Media Page talks more about the same. Of late, our Spraying Drone platform has also had the good fortune to become the stock photo for various news articles out there in the recent times.
Looking at the way drone industry is progressing and the adoption of new applications across the World, we are working on a couple of products that we expect to launch in the come 6-12 months. These products will be based around Intelligence (Surveillance) and Transportation (Package Delivery). Keep an eye out for our updates on this over the coming months. Improvements on Spraying Drone technology and the components are a constant endeavour as always.
The Way Forward
We will be focusing on 3 key themes – Automation, Intelligence and Transportation. Check out our About Us page to know about what we mean by those 3 themes. For the time being though, Automation will be related to Spraying & Dispersal activities in Agriculture, Urban Pest Control, Forestry and related areas. Intelligence would be in the applications of Surveillance/Surveying. And Transportation will focus on Medical Delivery to start with and later expand to E-Commerce/Food Delivery when the full-fledged UTM systems and Regulations are in place.