[Tech50] This drone startup combines AI and tech to help solve for deforestation, medicine delivery, and sanitisation

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Hyderabad-based Marut Drones, a YourStory Tech50 2021 startup, uses technology to innovate solutions for issues like mosquito eradication, medicine delivery, and agriculture.
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When Prem Kumar Vislawath, Suraj Peddi, and Sai Kumar Chinthala had started Marut Drones in 2019, the IIT-Guwahati batchmates were trying to help solve the problem of mosquitoes around lakes in Telangana.

Hailing from a small town in Telangana, the problem of mosquitoes was not new for Prem.

But he had realised that the problem was getting worse around the state, as the lakes in and around Hyderabad were being used to dump garbage and sewage water. This made the area even more of a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Wanting to solve this problem, Prem approached the local authorities who in turn advised him to find a solution as he was an IIT grad. Thus, roping in his batchmates Suraj and Sai, the trio founded Marut Drones.

A YourStory Tech50 2021 startup, today, Marut Drones describes itself as a pioneer in the Indian drone industry, with a vision to use technology for a purpose.

The workings

The startup uses technology to innovate solutions for the fight against mosquitoes, rapid deforestation leading to climate change, inaccessibility of timely medical supplies in unreachable areas or the inefficiencies in agriculture. 

It combines the power of emerging technologies such as drones, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence), with traditional scientific knowledge to create innovative drone solutions for healthcare, environment, afforestation, and agriculture.

Adoption of drone technology is still in its infancy in India, and Marut looks to accelerate this by making drones agents of change to advance social development. 

“To facilitate this, we work with premier scientific institutions to develop futuristic solutions with research-backed protocols. Our aim is to create a range of drones for mosquito eradication, medicine delivery to remote areas, rapid reforestation and minimisation of manual labour for agricultural processes, among other things,” adds Sai.

The product and services 

Marut’s drones include Marut Zap, which assists with mosquito eradication; Hepicopter, enabling swift delivery of medicines to inaccessible areas, Seedcopter for rapid and scalable reforestation, and Agricopter for precision agriculture.

Besides AI and IoT, Marut uses ML (machine learning), imaging technologies, heat maps, GIS (geographic information system), LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), and other technologies to gather and use data.

Competition and differentiator

The central government launched Drone Rules 2021, on August 25 this year to drive growth in this sector. The rules for drone operations have been liberalised by reducing the number of forms that need to be filled to operate them (from 25 to five), and decreasing the types of fees charged from the operator (from 72 to four).

As per a January 2020 PWC report, the drone market in India is predicted to grow at $885 million by 2021 and to $9.96 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.05 percent between 2020 and 2027.

The other startups in the space include - Aarav Unmanned System, Skylark Drones, and several others. Speaking of the differentiator, Sai says, “Majority of the drone companies work on government or defence projects as there still aren’t permissions for BLV (Beyond Line of Vision) drones. Our’s has been more on civil use cases like medicine delivery, afforestations, agriculture etc.”

He adds that drone regulations have changed, have become flexible, and most companies and drone federations have also matured from 2019, when there was no ecosystem. “It became easier when we collaborated with the governments,” adds Sai.

Revenue and traction

Marut has covered over 150 lakes with 1 lakh+ acres for anti-larval drone spraying with GHMC in Hyderabad. It is also one of the few consortiums with (beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) permissions for medical delivery.

In Telangana, it launched the “Hara Bahara” campaign with actor Rana Daggubati, as the brand ambassador with a vision to plant one billion trees by 2030 in India. Further, Marut’s agri drone solutions are widely used by various stakeholders from farmers to institutes such as ICRISAT and PJTSAU.

“For the lake-related work, each trip of the drone we charge close to Rs 10,000.. The whole process takes a day. For farm lands and agriculture, per acre, we charge Rs 400,” adds Sai.

With its success in product development, use case establishment and support received, Marut Drones intends to expand across geographies and explore getting into manufacturing in the near future.

Edited by Anju Narayanan