The drone industry in India is growing exponentially each day. Drones are finding their application in various industry sectors like logistics, defence, mining, healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure among others. The Government of India has also liberalised rules and regulations for the drone sector, with an aim to make India a global drone hub by 2030 and to generate job opportunities for the youth. This also gave a push to several drone training institutions to provide drone pilot training to candidates across different age groups and educational backgrounds.
It has also opened up several opportunities for women in the drone sector, who are passionately exploring new career paths. We interacted with one such woman who with a keen interest in drones and the usage of drone technology in the agriculture sector became one of the first women drone pilots from Telangana.
Meet Ms. Archana Reddy Pendyala from Hyderabad, who is an engineer, mother, entrepreneur and a first-generation drone pilot. She has been recently trained and certified by Telangana State Aviation Academy (TSAA) as a drone pilot. She talks to us about how her interest in drones started, her experience with drone pilot training at TSAA, the positive impact of using drones in agriculture, etc. Read on to know more.
Q: Please tell us briefly about yourself and how you got interested in drones and drone pilot training.
A: I am an Engineer by profession and I have done my post-graduation in M.Tech in Computer Networks and Information Securities. I currently run an Electric Vehicle company, where we manufacture 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler electric vehicles. My inspiration to become a drone pilot came from my grandfather, who is a farmer. I have seen him spend several hours spraying the fertilizer on the entire farm. With an interest and curiosity to know how to reduce the burden on him, I have researched on the internet and watched several videos about it. That is when I came across the use of drones in agriculture. I was fascinated by the various applications of drones in agriculture. I wanted to learn more about it, become a drone pilot and make use of drones in agriculture.
While I was exploring drone pilot training, I came across Telangana State Aviation Academy (TSAA) and joined its training program. Since I have an experience and understanding of electric vehicles, how the motor works, and some of the technicalities behind it, it was easier for me to pick up certain things in drone pilot training.
Q: What are your future plans? Are you going to take up drone pilot as a full-time career?
A: I would like to build drones for the agriculture sector. Every sector needs different kinds of drones specific to that industry. Now that I learned how to fly a drone, what are the different parts of it, and what are some of the things we can modify to suit the needs of the agriculture sector, I would like to build drones specific to this sector.
I already bought spare parts and built a drone by myself. I would like to try it out myself on our farmlands and build it further on a few other specifications.
Q: Are you also trained in building drones at TSAA?
A: We are not specifically trained in building drones at the academy, but we are made well aware of all the parts, how to fix them, and how to make small repairs by ourselves, among others. But because I have experience working on Electric Vehicles, their parts, how the motor works, and its mechanism, it was easier for me to improve further on that knowledge and build a drone from the scratch.
Q: Do you think people from any educational background can take up drone training?
A: In order to enrol oneself in drone pilot training, it is mandatory to be 18 years old and hold a 10th-class pass certificate. Having a technical background could be an added advantage but it is not necessary. I would say, the only prerequisite is to have a keen interest in drones.
Q: How was your training experience at TSAA?
A: It was an enriching experience. The total duration of the training was of 5 days – 3 days of class work or theoretical and 2 days of fieldwork of practical classes. During our training, we learnt about the rules and regulations to fly drones, the safe zones for flying, optimal height, designated areas, what is the maximum weight a drone can carry, among others. It was a very detailed training program. Even though the training is for 5 days, the trainers and staff of the academy are always available for any queries we have. They are approachable and can be reached anytime in case of any doubt or query.
Q: Is the drone sector opening up new career opportunities for women? What do you have to say?
A: It definitely is. But it will take a few more years to see more women take this up as a career. It is still new and is currently male-dominated. However, there are going to be several new opportunities in drones for women in various industry sectors like agriculture, photography, healthcare, etc.
Also read: ‘Medicine from Sky’ through Drones – Making Healthcare Accessible https://dronefluence.com/medicine-from-sky-through-drones-making-healthcare-accessible/
Q: Where do you think drones will play the most critical role in the coming years?
A: The future of drones is very promising in the agriculture sector. Water usage, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and labour shortage in agriculture are all going to be positively impacted by drones. With the use of drones in agriculture, we are able to spray fertilizer on one acre of land in 10 minutes, which is game-changing. After the agriculture sector, I think drones are going to play a critical role in the healthcare sector.