Under the partnership, the companies will work closely to explore opportunities to develop drone-based service applications in sectors such as defence, agriculture, mining, large-scale mapping and industrial inspection. Uncrewed Systems are vehicles – aerial, terrestrial, or marine – and associated elements, such as sensors and communications software, that can execute data-collection missions without a human presence aboard. Drones fall under the aerial category, hence requiring UAS software solutions.
One of the key applications that Garuda plans to launch through this partnership is enabling connectivity in semi-urban and rural areas. Drones deployed to spray pesticides will also act as repeaters for network signal, akin to routers hovering above vast fields.
The companies did not disclose any financial details.
“The drones will continue to serve the agricultural sector and help farmers reduce cost. With 5G connectivity introduced, this is one step towards creating a byproduct with a huge disruption,” said Agnishwar Jayaprakash, founder of Garuda Aerospace, in a statement. “The vision is to launch 25,000 such drones this year and 1,00,000 drones next year, and by 2024-2025, the goal is to deploy at least one drone in every village.”
Like many villages with access to electricity for a limited number of hours a day that help carry out efficient irrigation, for example, these drones will be able to provide better and high-speed connectivity in villages for a few hours a day (or whenever deployed). This will mean that businesses like banks and institutions like schools and colleges will be able to make use of high-speed internet for transactions and education/training purposes.
The drones will also help in surveillance. The partnership with Lockheed Martin will help in achieving software goals required for this. “Essentially, we can look at it as 6,00,000 mini towers in villages which will help increase connectivity in the respective areas across villages in India (by 2025),” the statement said.
“This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to support the growth of an indigenous defence and aerospace manufacturing ecosystem in India,” said Michael Baker, general manager of Lockheed Martin Canada CDL Systems.