Mumbai-based hardware startup IdeaForge Technology that makes unmanned aerial vehicles will raise Rs 70 crore in Series A funding from an investment round led by WRV Capital and IndusAge Partners. Other investor in this round include Indian IT major Infosys.
“We plan to deploy these funds in R&D and business development. We also have a few new drones in the pipeline to be launched soon,” said Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO of IdeaForge Technology.
The startup, founded in 2008 by IIT Bombay alumni — Ankit Mehta, Amardeep Singh, Rahul Singh, Ashish Bhat and Vipul Joshi — has jointly developed the Netra UAV along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
“We plan to deploy these funds in R&D and business development,” said Ankit Mehta, CEO and co-founder, Ideaforge
IdeaForge had previously raised funding from a group of angel investors.
The company currently counts several government agencies, including BSF and the CRPF, among its clients.
The company’s UAV, called NETRAv2, has a range of 5km with a flight endurance of 50 minutes and supports multiple payloads. It has been used for relief operations during the Uttarakhand Disaster of 2013, riot control during the Saharanpur riots of 2014, Ganesh Chaturthi immersions in Mumbai, the Pune landslide and the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri.
Defence and law enforcement bodies have also used IdeaForge’s UAV for counter-insurgency operations and monitoring border infiltration. The drones are also used for agricultural services, pipeline monitoring, aerial surveillance for wildlife monitoring and pollution monitoring, among others.
Drone regulations in India
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has banned the operation of drones in Indian airspace since October 2014. Earlier, in May 2016, the DGCA had released a draft paper about drone regulation in India, inviting ecosystem stakeholders to send in comments by May 21 before releasing a final version. That was the last we heard about this from the DGCA.
For the average consumer, the regulations around buying or flying drones are still unclear
Drone racing is also emerging as a hot new sport, while aerial cinematography and photography with drones is also on the rise. Most of these commercial and sporting activities are done with the permission of local authorities.
But, for the average consumer, the regulations around buying or flying drones are still unclear. Read how my colleague Jayadevan PK’s online order of a drone got stuck in customs and what happened when my colleague Ramarko Sengupta went looking for a drone in Bangalore.
For now, the only way you can get your hands on a drone in India is to buy one from the grey market or try your luck at importing one and see if it gets cleared by customs — not a very promising option.