Vikram Singh Founder & CEO, TechEagle

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“One of the biggest challenges we faced was to develop a product that can travel longer distances and could take off and land from small spaces.”

ES. Please describe your professional journey with us and tell us how did you land up here. Share with us a major milestone you have achieved over the years.

Vikram Singh. After completing high school, I secured admission into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, where I did a B.Tech in chemical engineering. My passion, however, lies in the world of aviation and social services. In my early days at IIT Kanpur, I was engaged in Drones/UAVs research and development, participating in & winning many national and international competitions.

During my time at IIT-Kanpur, I won several awards, including one from the venerated United States government-run NASA.

The motivation behind starting TechEagle came from two incidents of my life:

  • Childhood devastating memories of losing relatives due to snake bites and inaccessibility to proper healthcare were always at the back of my mind and I had been very keen to eradicate such problems from society.
  • While preparing for a competition to be held in the United States, where participants from the world over would design, develop and demonstrate Drones that could precisely drop a certain payload to a designated location we needed to do a lot of paperwork for visas, passports, and other such documentation which required travelling about 100 km to Lucknow from IIT Kanpur. Given our capabilities, we thought why not build a drone that can transport documents between Kanpur to Lucknow? It will save us time and money too. Besides thinking about how drones can transport parcels and documents from Kanpur to Lucknow, I also envisioned them transporting critical medicines to remote corners of the country. That’s when I realised the need to solve this larger problem of logistics for healthcare, and parcels.

By diving into the problem and speaking to many healthcare experts and logistics companies, I found that the first-mile and last-mile delivery were major pain points in the entire supply chain in remote areas. In July 2015, TechEagle was born in the hostel garage of IIT Kanpur and our efforts went towards building our first Drone. Initially, when we started, we started with designing and developing multi-rotor drones as they can take off and land from very small space, using that we had done world’s first Tea delivery via drone in 2018, However, the multirotor drones have their own shortcomings i.e. they have short flying range, then we later started working on fixed-wing drones however it requires a runway for its operations. So, we wanted to develop a product that can travel longer distances and could take off and land from small spaces as well hence we got the idea of developing a hybrid drone with the capabilities of both fixed wing and multirotor and after years of R&D, prototyping and testing with different models of hybrid e-VTOL drones we finally came up with our flagship product which is the fastest and longest range e-VTOL drone in the country with the capability of operating from an area as small as 5X5 metres.

Vertiplane X3-Fastest(120km/h) and Longest Range (100km) For More info:  https://www.techeagle.in/product

It took us around 5 years in total including the R&D, Prototyping, MVP and operationalising the plans.

ES. What led to the inception of TechEagle? What makes you unique?

Vikram Singh. Last-mile logistics is one of the most complex logistical issues. Not just in India but all across the world. It gets more difficult in hilly terrain and sometimes people die just because the medical essentials couldn’t reach them on demand. These challenges are due to inefficiency in the supply chain and other geographical factors such as rugged and uneven roads that make on-road navigation challenging, impromptu climate changes, emergency deliveries in hard-to-reach areas, and many more along the same line.

To address this problem, we have come up with a solution which will solve the majority of the above-mentioned pain points. Techeagle is enabling an On-Demand Drone Delivery Network that would facilitate efficient mid-mile and last-mile logistics with the idea to revolutionise the conventional delivery system in the country. TechEagle’s advanced drone delivery solutions overcome the problem of various geographical and logistical issues including lack of visibility in hilly areas, high delivery costs, outdated technology, and inaccessibility through roads and railway networks.Our Uniqueness lies in our product. Our Drones can transport up to 8kg items for a maximum distance of 100 km at a speed of 120 kmph and at a cheaper cost than conventional methods with reliability and safety. The drones manufactured by the team at TechEagle, are completely Made in India which lowers the cost of production. Also, these drones are provided to various clients on a service basis thus lowering the cost of the overall solution. Safety was always paramount for us, hence we have added an independently powered parachute, in case, if everything fails, this parachute deploys automatically, leading it to a safe landing. Our solution ensures the delivery of essential and non-essential goods to the farthest regions and most rugged regions in minimum time and most cost-effective manner.

ES. Deploying drone delivery solutions for supply chain solutions, Do you think drone delivery solutions will change the way supply chain solutions work in the future?

Vikram Singh. According to various surveys, as many as 93 percent of people have been negatively impacted by supply chain issues over the past year with many Indians unable to purchase certain items due to shortages or were forced to cancel orders due to delays. Some even went to the extent of rationing essential items out of fear of running out. The scenario gets even worse in hilly, remote regions. If we talk about the exact pain point, then, last-mile and mid-mile delivery logistics are the biggest reason for the prevalent inefficiencies in the entire supply chain. In addition to that, they account for approximately 60% of the total supply chain cost. We believe that a strong and efficient drone delivery network can be a boon to the entire supply chain.

Our Drones can transport parcels up to 100km distance with upt to 20X faster speed and 0.5X cheaper cost than conventional methods. It would cut down the delivery cost and time drastically in addition to making essential and non-essential items accessible to remote and hilly regions. Usage of drones would also eliminate the reliability of the supply chain network on fossil fuel-based logistics options and would be a huge shift towards sustainability. Overall, drone delivery solutions would have a positive impact on the supply chain and eventually our economy.

ES. Could you please share with us your experience at Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022, held recently at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi? When it comes to the showcase of products and offerings, how does an exhibition benefit the industry?

Vikram Singh. The was a reflection of how the Indian Drone Industry is going to expand exponentially in the years to come. The pace at which the industry is growing shows the onset of the revolutionary wave that is going to change the face of the logistics industry.

TechEagle’s booth and product was visited and appreciated by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji along with other Cabinet ministers and senior officials. Our team had illuminating conversations on the applications of our VERTIPLANE X3 and how it has been designed, developed and manufactured in-house by TechEagle as an indigenous product. We talked about how our Drones are enabling swift delivery of healthcare supplies and cargo across all terrains and weather to save and improve lives. We believe such exhibitions are a great platform to connect with the right people, whether they represent a government body, investors, potential customers or enthusiasts. These exhibitions provide a great platform to showcase your solution and communicate your vision to the masses. It connects you with the right opportunities to grow and improvise.

ES. How do you think the healthcare industry will change by adopting new ways of procuring supplies?

Vikram Singh. According to data published by the World Bank, approximately 61% of the total population of India resides in rural areas. Among these figures, a major chunk of the population resides in hard-to-reach terrains, specifically the remote and hilly regions. The percentage of the population vaccinated in these inaccessible remote localities is again an indicator of inefficiencies in the healthcare supply chain as Last-mile logistics is one of the most complex logistical issues and when it comes to cold chain logistics the scenario only worsens. Not just in India but all across the world and sometimes people die just because the medical essentials couldn’t reach them on demand.

It is high time that the healthcare industry makes a shift toward logistics options which are efficient in terms of delivery time, accessibility and cost which ultimately leads to the unaffordability of healthcare essentials in hard-to-reach areas. Here, TechEagle is already building a drone delivery network to enable safe, secured, and faster delivery of various healthcare items such as emergency medicines, blood and blood components, vaccines, anti-venoms, etc specifically for the hard-to-reach areas of the state, faster and more economically. It will give an advantage to doctors to utilise golden hours for patients. We are on a mission to save and improve a billion lives and make the world a better place to live.

ES. What are the top three major challenges surrounding the drone industry? How are you predicting the major trends in the industry for the coming year?

Vikram Singh. With every innovation comes, a set of challenges and the drone industry is no different. If I have to list down the top 3 of them then they would be,

Investment

Drone industry is the talk of town but Indian investors are service IT oriented where they don’t understand that this industry is fusion of hardware and software and requires good amount of capital to reach the mass adoption level but due to short sighting of the indian VCs, a lot of startups are struggling with right amount of funding at right time. Investors need to open up their mindset if they want to help founders build world class deeptech companies out of India.

Skill development: Hardware, Software, Design, Manufacturing and Operators.

The absence of a sufficient supply of skilled talent makes it difficult to develop world class products at a faster pace. The supply of trained and certified drone pilots should match the demand which would eventually make it more seamless and efficient.

ES. What is one of the hardest challenges that you’ve come up against and what did it teach you?

Vikram Singh. One of the biggest challenges we faced was to develop a product that can travel longer distances and could take off and land from small spaces. Initially, when we started, we started with designing and developing multi-rotor drones as they can take off and land from very small space, using that we had done world’s first Tea delivery via drone in 2018, However, the multirotor drones have their own shortcomings i.e. they have short flying range, then we later started working on fixed-wing drones however it requires a runway for its operations. So, to fulfill our mission to develop a product that can travel longer distances and could take off and land from small spaces as well after extensive R&D, we got the idea of developing a hybrid drone with the capabilities of both fixed wing and multi-rotor and after years of R&D, prototyping and testing with different models of hybrid e-VTOL drones we finally came up with our flagship product which is the fastest and longest range e-VTOL drone in the country with the capability of operating from an area as small as 5X5 meters. It took us around 5 years in total including the R&D, Prototyping, MVP and operationalising the plans. In this journey, we learnt that sometimes we do not need to think out of the box to solve a problem, in some cases the solution lies in the box itself.

ES. Would you like to make any announcements or share any news with our readers about your plans or upcoming product?

Vikram Singh. We are working on various plans and products, but currently, we do not have any public announcements.

ES. On another note, what do you enjoy the most about your work? Please share your hobbies, what keeps you busy when you are away from work?

Vikram Singh. We at TechEagle are building an On-Demand Drone Delivery Network for parcel delivery in minutes to save and improve lives. The impact which our solution will have on the lives of billions and the thought of saving even a single life with our solution acts as a booster for me and my team to keep moving forward. We rejoice in the positive impact which our solution will have on the lives of many. If I am not working, Badminton, Trekking, and travel is what I do the majority of the time, I can be found travelling and exploring new places or participating in adventure sports.

ES. What would you say to the industry if you had one message and one piece of advice to give?

Vikram Singh. One Message to All: Start adopting Drones for business and Drones should be part of strategy else it will be too late to the party. Advice to Drone Industry: Start developing the majority of components and Drone tech in India and stop relying on imports.