How best can you describe the journey of Mapmyindia since its humble beginnings to where it is now?
MapmyIndia was founded by two Indian visionary entrepreneurs, my parents – Rakesh Verma (Alumnus of BITS, Pilani) and Rashmi Verma (Alumnus of IIT Roorkee) who left their settled careers in the USA working with General Motors and IBM respectively, to return to India. This was the early 90s and India was facing one of her worst economic crisis. Undaunted, they believed in the resilience of India and determined to do something for their motherland. Digital maps fascinated them, like the ones they had seen in the US. It would be a great idea to build them for India, and in the year 1995, when maps to a common Indian were some exotic commodity bound within the school atlas, they said that ‘Someday 80% all that we do would have a location component to it!’
And thus began the journey of MapmyIndia, a journey of herculean challenges surmounted and the realisation of a near impossible dream. From 1995 to this day, in a new millennium, adoption of maps and mapping technology has witnessed an exponential rise. MapmyIndia through constant innovation, understanding the user needs, and proactively adapting to change, continued to carve a niche and established itself as a pioneer and a dominant player in the Indian Digital mapping, Deep Tech, Location tech, IoT and GIS space. Today, MapmyIndia is one of the very few, if not the only Indian digital map product company. Industry, media and governments among others have bestowed recognitions after recognitions upon the founders and the company for their unique contributions towards the creation of the Geospatial sector in India.
Over the years MapmyIndia has grown in both business and stature, to become one of the most successful technology companies in India that has created value for all its stakeholders – the culmination of which was the company being recognized as a ‘Unicorn’ in 2021, post the company’s blockbuster IPO that was oversubscribed by more than 154 times and the stock listed with an opening day premium of 65% despite uncertain market conditions.
What types of industries/people have you noticed are most keen on drone technology?
Just like Location technology, Digital mapping and GIS, engagement of drones with various sectors is horizontal. They are finding uses in defence, mapping, infrastructure, logistics delivery, retail, entertainment, surveillance and security, weather and meteorology, agriculture, mining etc. But these are just the tip of the iceberg, just like our founders at MapmyIndia predicted the proliferation of location tech some 27 years back and today we see that as a reality. I see a similar thing happening with Drones and Drone tech, in a much shorter time span, as we move up the learning curve and with advances in technology, so would the utility of drones increase, new uses and users of drones will come up.
As drones become more and more accessible to people at large, amateurs, innovators, entrepreneurs will join the fray, these avant-garde will disrupt and diffuse the ecosystem with their revolutionary ideas and challenge the obvious, thus pushing the envelope further and further. I see this trend has already started, every now and then I hear of a new drone based start-up coming up and even investors are looking into this arena with keen interest. So now you have the people, the regulation and the money – the nebula is there – it is only a matter of time that stars begin appearing!
How do you think that regulation changes will affect the growth of the drone industry?
The Government of India introduced pathbreaking regulatory reforms in the geospatial industry in February 2021, which liberalised, unshackled and unleashed the potential of the indigenous geospatial industry, for which we at MapmyIndia are extremely grateful. Similarly, the announcement of the Drone Rules 2021 which are aimed at liberalising the drone sector and also launch of the Digital Sky platform and portal, are very welcome and progressive steps. It is a matter of great pride for us that MapmyIndia’s digital maps, APIs and technologies are being extensively used in the Digital Sky Platform.
What are a few of the most creative ways you have seen drones getting used?
MapmyIndia has been building 3D Metaverse Maps using drones, amongst other technologies, and putting on our indigenous, swadeshi, consumer mapping & navigation app – Mappls. Users can see and immerse themselves in these 3D Metaverse Maps by visiting Mappls.com or downloading the Mappls App. On a lighter note, the light shows using coordinated drones are so exciting to watch!
How Mapmyindia is revolutionizing Using Drone technology? What are the sectors getting benefitted? What are the challenges you are faced & how you have overcome them?
At MapmyIndia, we are completely aligned with the Honourable Prime Minister’s vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, and since our inception in 1995, have been focused on accelerating the advent of a Sarvottam Bharat, bringing the benefits of best-in-class, indigenously and in-house developed, digital maps and location technologies to all Indians and at the same time enabling India to become a global powerhouse in these strategically important sectors and advanced technologies. MapmyIndia is actively contributing with our drone solutions for the Swamitva project to map property ownership for rural ‘abadi’ areas using drones. We are also mapping lots of infrastructure across the public and private sector, and enabling smart cities, state urban development authorities, real estate companies, infrastructure companies and even helping consumers to navigate safely on roads, using our drone solutions!
We are excited about the prospect of more and more drone manufacturers, service providers and solutions developers coming in the fray. In the past few years we have funded and partnered with various drone startups and ecosystem players. MapmyIndia is already working with Drone Federation of India (DFI), a premiere industry body that promotes drone-tech and strives towards building a safer and scalable unmanned aviation industry to help promising Drone related start-ups with joint go-to-market business and funding opportunities, further scaling up the indigenous ecosystem. One such initiative was ‘The Drone Innovation Challenge 1.0’ with up to Rs 1 crore for winners and up to Rs 4 lakh each for qualifying participants designed to encourage indigenous innovation in Drone-tech. You will see more such activations and initiatives by MapmyIndia that encourage innovation at the grass root level.
MapmyIndia Drone solutions suite:
MapmyIndia Map and Location APIs which leverage MapmyIndia’s comprehensive, accurate, detailed and continuously updated digital map data that covers the length, breadth and depth across rural and urban India and provides advanced, interactive map rendering, geocoding, routing, geo-fencing and reverse geocoding capabilities.
MapmyIndia mGIS geospatial platform allow for geospatial data ingestion, integration, management, visualisation, analytics, arithmetic measurements, and publishing visualisation and data management platform across 2D (including both vector maps, geo-referenced data, raster drone and satellite imagery etc), as well as full 3D (allowing for 3-Dimensional data, models and point clouds ingestion, visualisation, and analytics covering heights, terrains, textures, volumes etc. of land surface, buildings as well as full-scale city and country-side models), and even 4D (time being the fourth-dimension, showing time-changing live and recorded geospatially referenced 2D and 3D data, including interactive flight animations and time-based shadows) and HD (high-definition, centimetre accurate and photo-realistic data)
MapmyIndia GPS-based drone tracker IoT devices can be attached or embedded into drones and send in real-time the id, latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, heading and other data about the drone, enabling real-time drone identification, tracking and monitoring, as well as MapmyIndia’s InTouch IoT platform, which can communicate with, and ingest real-time telemetry data at scale, from large fleets of drones continuously and provide live visualisation and advanced analytics and geo-fencing alerts to users.
MapmyIndia Workmate which allows for workforce monitoring, management and automation enabling location tracking of drone pilots, task assignment, field survey data collection and overall management and automation of workflows regarding drone operations.
Drones are beginning to explode in the civilian market. What are a few reasons why UAV’s have grown so much in the last few years?
Drones are increasingly finding utility in our daily lives. From ecommerce companies getting into drone deliveries to completely redefining how aerial photography done, rather almost anyone can indulge in such hobbies. The recent regulations liberalizing the usage of drones, will further proliferate their use. I see more and more start-ups getting into this arena. With the encouragement and support of the Government, soon we will see India as the hotbed of innovation in drone tech. And as has been the case with ‘Made in India’ products or solutions which are usually ‘Made for the World’ because they are economical, low maintenance, inherently simple and high on utility. Similar would be the case with Drones. I see a million dreams take to sky, quite literally!
What are the dangers of not understanding the regulations when somebody is looking to fly a drone commercially?
It is very important that any responsible organisation understand that drones, like any technology, should not be used to harm the country’s security and people’s safety. This is the most important point if we want the drone sector to proliferate.
Where do you see the drone industry in 2030?
India’s drone market will grow rapidly to a size of worth INR 1.8 lac crores by 2030, as per a report by FICCI. And we are focused on enabling, the best, most cutting edge drone solutions that positively benefit the Indian industry, economy and society and ensure our country’s and citizens’ safety, security and privacy.
Globally this industry is poised to be a $ 30 billion industry by 2030, with strong action, careful planning and investments will create a fertile environment for development of cutting edge indigenous tech and innovative manufacturing capabilities – Made in India for the world products and solutions that are competitively priced. Then nothing can stop India from becoming a global hub for Drone manufacturing and Drone Tech.