Drone Federation of India, AWS sign MoU to help entrepreneurs build services for drones in India

The collaboration will identify use cases for drone applications across land surveys, precision agriculture, disaster management, and search and rescue missions, and build custom cloud-based solutions for them.

The Drone Federation of India (DFI) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help India’s drone ecosystem by empowering DFI’s partners and customers with access to AWS’ cloud services, technical expertise, and open data sets.

The MoU which was signed at the Drone Festival of India - 2020, New Delhi, will see AWS being the preferred cloud service for the Drone Federation, which will provide drone manufacturers, application developers, and operators a scalable, agile, secure, and robust cloud infrastructure to develop drone applications and accelerate time-to-market in India.

DFI is a non-government, not-for-profit industry-led body that promotes and works towards building a safer and scalable autonomous drone aviation industry in India.

DFI and AWS sign a MoU to collaborate to help the drone industry.

The collaboration will identify use cases for drone applications across land surveys, precision agriculture, disaster management, and search and rescue missions, and build custom cloud-based solutions for them.

DFI will also establish a drone innovation and operations hub in the country to support drone-based innovation using AWS cloud services. The hub will prototype and develop drone applications involving the drone ecosystem in India, comprising of startups, government bodies, and policymakers.

It will also empower the Indian drone industry by creating industry-leading proof-of-concept (POC) and cloud workflow related programmes by providing technical expertise in data collection, data processing, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) use cases, and help transform the way organisations collect, store, and interpret drone data.

“If we want to see food and medicine deliveries, autonomous aerial transportation, large-scale business transformation in mining, roads, and disaster management, we will require the power of cloud computing and strong data-based workflows. We believe this collaboration will help enable stakeholders of the drone ecosystem to build solutions for the future,” Rahat Kulshreshtha, President, DFI said.

Drone deployments come with heavy requirements in data processing and warehousing. With map-based analytics becoming the next frontier in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based decision-making, reliable data warehousing capabilities for on-demand access to decision-making data is pivotal. DFI and its partners will leverage AWS’s compute instances, storage services, and database services including Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon Aurora for drone applications.

The drone industry is also making significant innovations in the area of vision-based navigation systems, which equips drones with ML and vision-based features like indoor and spatial navigation to further improve safety in advanced collision avoidance. These use cases require a combination of ML and IoT-based workflows using Amazon SageMaker, AWS IoT Greengrass, and Amazon Rekognition services.

“The collaboration will help us bring open data sets to the drone community in India. We run a lot of startup programmes in India, and this technology and research collaboration with DFI allows us to create citizen impact,” Rahul Sharma, President –India and South Asia Public Sector, Amazon Internet Services, said.

“With the breadth and depth of AWS cloud services across industry-leading compute, storage, database, IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, drone developers and operators can now test new ideas quickly, and accelerate innovation in the application development that better serve citizens and impact society positively," he added.

According to UnearthInsight, there are about 100 drone-based startups in India as compared to 681 in the US and 129 in China, of which less than 20 percent are funded. Further, 70 percent of these startups are generating revenue, and it expects 50 percent of the startups will break even in the next two years.

On August 27, 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation released the National Drone Policy 1.0 which made drone operation in India legal. This landmark decision paved the way for a wider application of drone technology in the country.

While the new drone policy has stirred excitement in terms of new market opportunities and interesting use cases – reduction of human intervention in sectors such as aviation, gathering precise spatial data to enable city planning and administration, among others – such policies need to have a precise safety and security framework to ensure they are not misused.

While the National Drone Policy 2.0 establishes an intricate system of application and approval procedures, it does not account for the thorough monitoring of drones. It also ignores the implications of free movement of smaller drones, which have been exempted from many of the regulatory procedures.

(Edited by Suman Singh)