Rajesh Mane, Aniket Tatipamula, and Neeraj Waghchaure were batchmates at the VJTI college in Mumbai studying engineering. They were always passionate about building drones for the good and showing that drones do have a lot of constructive use. They built several prototypes for aerial vehicles but the kind of drone they wanted to make never took flight. The trio went on different routes but always kept trying; the drone finally started flying. This gave them new hope and they launched Social Drones in May 2013.
Social Drones has been started with an aim of delivering better and unconventional applications of drones to the society, such as disaster management, relief camp, emergency situations (fire brigade). Their first assignment was, accidentally, during the recent Uttarakhand disaster. Due to limited resources, the Social Drones could not go immediately, but their team landed in August and stayed for a good 2 weeks (startup IdeaForge was there during the disaster). A lot remains to be done in Uttarakhand, and hence Social Drones is also a part of the 'Rebuild Uttarakhand' campaign that has been initiated by a handful of startups in India.
"We conducted surveillance practices across Uttarakashi, Gangori, and Maneri, documented huge content. In our next phase of operations, we'll be carrying out aerial delivery of light weight material such as medicines, across rivers and across landsliding areas in case of emergencies," says Rajesh about their operations in Uttarakhand. The largest Social Drone is about a meter in length and the width is about 60cm. It can carry a maximum weight of 2kg at the moment.
The Social Drones team has 7 drones ready with them and are gathering resources to go into production where they can take drones to the masses. Social Drones is looking to make drones available to everyone at a price point of Rs 40,000 but it is still a thing of the future. For generating revenues, Social Drones has launched an alternative wing called Airpix which is into aerial photography. "Airpix operates in area where there is a lot of scope to get projects and bring in money for the company to deploy into research and development," says Rajesh. Airpix takes up projects in areas like real estate photography where the builders and others get a good sense of how the land is laid out. Marriages, hotels, tourism are other areas where people want to get picture clicks from a height. These are rather unconventional ways to generate revenues, but show the determination of the trio to keep Social Drones going.
Social Drones is based out of Mumbai and has the three co-founders as the strong pillars, with a few others chipping in. "We want to create a social value and revamp the way drones are seen internationally," sign off the trio.
Website: Social Drones