This drone startup by IIT alumni is providing aerial solutions to industries to elevate efficiency, profitability

Started by three IIT Madras engineers, UrbanMatrix Technologies is a drone tech startup that has developed an integrated all-in-one drone solution to solve existing problems of industries.
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Drone technology is disrupting almost every industry across the world. Today, drones can do much more than taking photos and videos, and has been found useful in areas like defence, ecommerce, healthcare, emergency response, etc. 

IIT Madras engineers Rishabh Verma, Ashutosh Kumar, and Divyanshu Pundir spotted a gap between the available drone options and industry requirements early in their careers and started UrbanMatrix Technologies in August 2019. The Bengaluru-based startup aims to help industries by integrating aerial data with their ongoing workflow to save time and cost. 

Rishabh says that existing aerial solutions are complex, disintegrated, non-compliant, and difficult to adopt. To solve these challenges, UrbanMatrix has developed an integrated all-in-one drone solution package.

The Bengaluru-based startup is now in its final stages of product launch and plans to make its commercial launch by February 2022.

Urbanmatrix Team(L:R) - Rishabh Verma, Ajay Karthik(Software architect), Ashutosh Kumar, Divyanshu Pundir

The ideation

Rishabh says, the idea of UrbanMatrix originated in 2016 when all the three co-founders used to go to IIT Madras to build and learn about drones.  

“We worked with companies like Mahindra to understand where we can add more value. We quickly realised that taking photos and videos from drones is not the end goal, we can do much more with drones,” states Rishabh. 

After registering in August 2019, UrbanMatrix started providing services to companies using drones for land surveys, agricultural spraying, and so on.

Land survey using UMT launchpad - Image credits: UrbanMatrix

“We shifted our focus to industries like infrastructure, land surveys, security, and surveillance because these industries were adopting drones rapidly and aggressively, and the regulations were supporting these applications and technologies in these industries,” says Rishabh. 

“Today, our products offer two things – first is reliability, because we have total command on the software and the integration, and so we can very quickly understand and solve problems to make the product more reliable. Second is ease of use. Understanding the technology and building it in house, including the software, has helped us provide a seamless, simple, and effortless experience to our clients. They can simply open the package, set up the drone in under a minute, and fly it without any training,” says Rishabh.

The product and USP

UrbanMatrix Technologies specialises in micro drones and enables industries to leverage the power of aerial data by building compliant drone hardware along with proprietary software solutions

 

Rishabh says, drones require a controller for both manual flights as well as fully automated ones. The software platform, which allows one to plan missions and fly the drone, is commonly called Ground Control Station (GCS). The current GCS available in the market is very complex and unreliable. This makes it very challenging for drone manufacturers to execute missions. UrbanMatrix has identified this challenge and has built its own proprietary GCS called ‘UMT LaunchPad’.

Image Credits: YS Design team

The UMT LaunchPad also allows users to take No Permission No Take-off (or NPNT), a DGCA mandate for drones to take flying permission, in just a click, adds Rishabh.  

Apart from this, the startup has a proprietary operating system called ‘Matrix Operating System’ to fly drones to provide a seamless and reliable experience for users. They are using their proprietary OS in UMT Sparrow RTK (drone) which helps enterprises to efficiently leverage arial data and make smart decisions.

The startup has also come up with a smart battery pack. While most drones use Lithium Polymer based battery packs at present, UrbanMatrix has built Lithium Ion based battery packs in association with IIT Madras. Rishabh says these battery packs are light in weight and they provide double charge-cycles compared to traditional packs. 

The startup has also developed a cloud-based web platform called ‘UMT Console’ that helps get actionable data and manage operations from a computer. It can be opened on any browser and can be accessed from anywhere. 

It allows users to get instant live footage from a drone, helps in pilot management, live mission monitoring and planning, real-time health monitoring and OEM diagnostics, AI-driven data processing capabilities, camera control, image and video cloud storage, and flight report generation. 

The team

Rishabh joined IIT Madras in 2016, and Ashutosh was his senior. Rishabh started learning about drones from Ashutosh, and later, they both worked on the same drone-project and decided to start up. Divyanshu was Ashutosh’s wing-mate. After graduation, he left his job at Wells Fargo and a fully-funded PhD offer from Texas A&M (USA) to continue building UrbanMatrix Technologies.

Rishabh started his first venture in 2017 by developing crash-resistance fixed wing drone technology (Patented). Before graduating, he generated Rs 5 lakh revenue from clients like Mahindra and CUBE, and also won Rs 10 lakh and represented his drone-innovations in the USA and Africa (with support of the United Nations). He also generated Rs 22 lakh revenue after graduating (during COVID) by doing aerial surveys of 12,000+ acres of land. This revenue was used to bootstrap UrbanMatrix.

The startup has a team of eight members at present. Rishabh takes care of business strategies, team expansion, day-to-day operations, and client out-reach at UrbanMatrix. Ashutosh helps with the development and testing of the drone and it’s components, and Divyanshu develops software platforms for drone controller and web-based console. 

The market size and target audience

According to a report by PwC, the drone market in India is expected to reach $885 million in 2021. Owing to the projected increase in demand, India is slated to become a $1.81 billion drone market by FY26. 

The central government has also liberalised drone rules with the vision to make India a global drone hub by 2030. The new drone policy is expected to give a fresh impetus to India’s economy and generate employment opportunities for people, especially the youth. The new rules will impact private as well as commercial players in the drone ecosystem. 

UrbanMatrix, which provides industrial 4G enabled drones to its clients, gives them the option to further choose a suitable subscription of 'UMT Console'.

So far, UrbanMatrix has provided aerial solutions to companies like L&T and Mahindra, and has completed aerial survey of more than 12,000 acres of land throughout the country. 

The startup competes with the likes of ideaForge, AUS, Asteria Aerospace, and Edall Systems.

“Our focus has always been on developing in-house capabilities to counter competitors. Because of this,  our products are more reliable and easy-to-adopt compared to our competitors,” states Rishabh.

Bootstrapped with an investment of Rs 40 lakh, the startup raised Rs 1.2 crore in August 2021. The startup aims to build deep-technical capabilities in drone space and become a global drone manufacturer brand in the next five years. 


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Edited by Megha Reddy

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