Omega Seiki Mobility, a maker of electric vehicles, plans to roll out drone-mounted e-trucks as a logistics solution by early 2023. The detachable drones will be electrically powered and made in India.
“We are the first Indian firm which will be offering a vehicle integrated with drones,” said Uday Narang, founder of Omega Seiki. “There will be seven drones for applications such as medicine delivery, agriculture, ambulance, freight, firefighting, food delivery and courier.”
Omega’s drone-mounted e-trucks are being tested in various states. The drones will initially be installed on Omega Seiki’s Rage+ e-three wheeler and will be available at a starting price of about Rs 5 lakh.
The company has floated a new entity, OSM Drones, and will spend $10 million to set up a dedicated facility in Bengaluru. The flagship company of the Anglian Omega Group is targeting production of 7,000-8,000 drone-mounted EV units in the first six months and 25,000 units in the second year.
“We have our in-house R&D centres in Korea and Thailand that have worked in close coordination in building new technology and more design advanced productivity,” Narang said. “Our drones are going to be in the logistics space by combining EVs with UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).”
Narang said Omega Seiki is in talks with two European companies to make drones that are “five years ahead of time”. There are also plans to build battery packs for drones and EVs in collaboration with a US-based company. The partnerships are aimed at building locally.
“Whenever we stitch any alliances in any part of the world, we make sure that everything comes back home. So the software, hardware, etc. will be built by people here,” Narang said.
Omega Seiki has filed three patent applications — for contactless delivery through drones, for electric three-wheeled vehicles with quadcopters for non-contact delivery of medicines and daily needs and for the use of drones to deliver pesticides and chemicals.
It plans to file patents for drone design, for unique cell technology used in the drones, for the torque and power output of the drones, and for the unique hinge design in its drones.
While Omega Seiki may be the first to come up with drone-mounted EVs, there is a range of companies including General Aeronautics, Asteria Aerospace, Paras Aerospace and UrbanMatrix Technologies that offer drone-based solutions, some for defence applications and others for civilian purposes.
Omega Seiki plans to cater to the e-commerce, food and beverage, FMCG, and medical product delivery segments.
Narang said the initial batch of 5,000 units will be deployed internally, to Uno Express, its last-mile delivery arm.
“We want to bring the proof of concept,” said Narang. “So are open to alliances with logistic players, with other players, to do this with us. But initially, we want to showcase to the world that it works.”
Narang said drones-as-a-service makes more business sense because the investment by end-users is limited.
“They are just paying a monthly fee or on a per-use basis. We have 10 ambulances parked at different locations and when the hospital needs it, we send it,” he said.
Omega Seiki said a manned version of the vehicle is on the cards and will be available by early 2024.
“My aim is to reduce congestion in our cities, so we could have flying taxis to reduce travelling time and increase efficiency. It is currently doing test runs in Korea and other countries and will be coming here as well,” Narang said.
While Omega Seiki plans to be cashflow-positive by 2024, it aims to clock revenue of Rs 1,500 crore in three years, of which Rs 250-300 crore is expected from OSM Drones.
The government intends to make India a global hub for drone manufacturing by 2030. In August 2021, new drone rules were announced.
The sector got a further thrust when production-linked incentives (PLI) schemes for drones and components were introduced in September. The beneficiaries of the schemes included IdeaForge, the Adani Group, and Paras Defence.According to a civil aviation ministry estimate, India’s drone sector will achieve a turnover of Rs 12,000-15,000 crore by 2026, from about Rs 80 crore now.