E-Vibhram is lightest UAV in its class and equipped with robust autopilot capabilities: Rama Krishna, CEO of Endure Air Systems

India is enroute in becoming a major Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs)/drones manufacturing hub in the world. The country has recently introduced liberal and revolting regulations concerning UAVs/drone ecosystem in the country. Product Linked Incentive Scheme for drone manufacturers and components along with declaration of Drone Shakti scheme in Budget 2022 are among the two most noteworthy ones.

EndureAir Systems, an IIT-Kanpur incubated company is gradually emerging as a leading force with its innovations and cutting-edge UAVs. The company has rich experience in research and development of novel airframes, autopilots, communication framework, monitoring stations and artificial intelligence (AI) tools. It had also assisted the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) in Uttarakhand last year during a devastating natural disaster where a portion of a glacier broke off in Joshimath, Chamoli district, causing a glacial lake outburst.

Earlier this year, EAS presented gasoline-powered version of Vibhram at the North Tech Symposium conducted by India Army’s Northern Command. EndureAir Systems recently demonstrated an electric version of its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Vibhram, at the East Tech 2022, an event held in Kolkata by the Indian Army’s Eastern Command. In a candid conversation with The Quotes, Rama Krishna, Co-Founder & CEO of EndureAir Systems talked about the significance of E-Vibhram, the story behind successfully acquiring seed funding, the learnings in their journey and the importance of PLI scheme in enhancing the drone set-up in the country. Excerpts of the conversation.

Foremost congratulations on successful testing of Electric version of Vibhram unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Kindly help our readers to understand the importance and significance of E-Vibhram. Also mention its specific features and what makes it unique in the range of UAVs.

Thank you so much. We are absolutely thrilled at the performance of Vibhram which actually stands for ‘Resilient wanderer’. Vibhram is a conventional copter based small UAV, capable of lifting payload of 5 kg along with a range of more than 50 kms. It is one of its kind system, which offers unique features like vertical take-off & landing, long range and endurance, precise navigation and swappable payloads, distinguishing us from other UAV manufacturers. Our system, as per the user demand has been customized into two versions, gasoline and electric, depending on the requirements.

E-Vibhram hence offers ease of operation with low aural signature, along with a long range of video streaming. Designed to cater to multiple users, it is the lightest UAV in its class due to a highly optimized design and use of advanced composite material with latest manufacturing technology.

The key innovation lies in the development of highly reliable and robust autopilot capable of operations in most challenging environment with high wind conditions.

EndureAir Systems have already introduced gasoline-powers version of Vibhram earlier this year. What were its significant features. How eVibhram is going to be different from its previous version?

Vibhram has a capability to fly for a very long duration i.e., 45 mins of flying time with a payload capacity up to 2kgs. Vibhram can provide situational awareness pictures in the areas of operation by acting as an eye in the sky, providing live video feed up to 10kms and communication up to 20-25kms. Vibhram can also be used in solutions like radio relay and for carrying LTE payloads.

E-Vibhram is much lighter in weight as compared to the gasoline-based version. Being electrically powered, it can resist high wind gust with tolerance up to 40km/hr and provide 2x the speed compared to conventional multirotor drones and addresses a wide range of operations. It is more efficient for shorter operations and makes less noise. It can operate in an optimal temperature that is -20 degree to 50 degree Centigrade.

EndureAir Systems has raised INR 13.5 Cr as part of its seed funding round led by Asian Paints co-promoter Jalaj Dani. Kindly explain our readers how everything panned out and how difficult It is to get the seed round of funding.

Persistence and consistency drove us all these years to be where we’ve reached today. We feel nothing but gratitude towards those who have been with us on this journey through thick and thin. Difficulty is really a function of time and traction and the specifics of fundraising market. It was certainly not easy to prepare for the seed round of funding.

Coming from an engineering background, our entire team before the round was focused on ensuring the niche of our products but to fructify that into the market, we geared up our learnings and expanded it to understanding law, corporate finance, and corporate structure; developing a company vision; studying competitors and metrics; preparing presentation materials, financial statements and projections; practicing, honing and then making a pitch. A large part of this also involves putting across your vision and belief with utmost authenticity to the investor and understanding whether their approach is also conducive and aligned with our goals.

What were the learnings from the seed funding process?

Seed funding is a great learning process which is integral to getting ideas off the ground and finally realising the potential of our products as well as the company. We cannot wait to embark upon this new journey with the entire EndureAir family and look forward to strengthening, growing and providing world-class aerial robotics solutions.

EndureAir’s name featured in the second provisional list of beneficiaries under the PLI scheme. How significant was finding the name of your company in the list and how do you think it will help EAS in future.

It was very encouraging to see the government’s consideration of start-ups in the drone ecosystem. We were thrilled to find out our name in the second provisional list of beneficiaries under the PLI scheme. The PLI scheme for the Drones and Drone components industry will lead to investments, eligible sales and create additional employment. A product-specific PLI scheme for drones with clear revenue targets and focus on domestic value will be a big boost to India’s growth.

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