UK announces largest drone superhighway: How's India boosting similar technology?
The United Kingdom, in the next two years, is expected to have the world's largest autonomous drone superhighway. The British government will need to install several ground-based sensors as a part of the project that aims to construct a 265km-long superhighway. Meanwhile, India, also in the drone race, launched a production-linked-incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components in September 2021.
Project Skyway to become world's biggest drone highway
This week, the UK revealed its grand plans to develop the world's biggest drone superhighway in the next two years. Budgeted at £12M (Rs. 114cr), Project Skyway will connect the airspace above the Cambridge, Oxford, Milton Keynes, and Rugby areas of London. The British government will also shell out £105.5M (over Rs. 1,000cr) for initiatives of "integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technology."
Project to unveil the potential of UAVs
Project Skyway will be the first initiative to showcase the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The drones will be used to transport mail and medicines to the Isles of Scilly, located in southwest England, and to cancer patients in Scotland. The drone superhighway will also have traffic management systems and ground-based sensors put in place.
When did India start using drones?
Notably, the Indian Armed Forces first obtained drones from Israel in the 1990s; they were deployed for the first time during the 1999 Kargil conflict. During the row with Pakistan, drones were used to conduct photo reconnaissance along the Line of Control (LOC). India has since noticed the benefits of drones for sectors outside of defense, including agriculture, infrastructure, police surveillance, transport, and mining.
Will India take the flight?
The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently approved a Telangana government project that will evaluate pathways for medicine deliveries using drones. The central government also launched a special scheme for drones and drone component manufacturing in September 2021. On February 19, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Kisan Drone Yatra, a project by Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, which had 100 agri-drones taking flight simultaneously.
India's first drone unicorn start-up
Garuda Aerospace, a unique start-up named as a beneficiary under the PLI scheme, is all set to become India's first drone unicorn start-up. "We are in the final stage of raising $30 million at a $250 million valuation. Funding leads to innovation, which is critical to executing projects like Skyway in India," Garuda CEO Agnishwar Jayaprakash told News18.