Pathfinder Capital signs MoU with Adani Defence System for introducing drones | Daily News

Pathfinder Capital signs MoU with Adani Defence System for introducing drones

Pathfinder Capital (Pvt.) Ltd. recently signed an MoU with Adani Defence System and Technologies Ltd. to introduce drones for commercial applications in Sri Lanka.

Pathfinder and Adani jointly plan to introduce drones to Sri Lanka for commercial and other applications. The Gautam Adani-led Adani Enterprises which introduced drones to the Indian market, recently purchased 50 percent of the Bengaluru-based startup company General Aeronautics, which has developed a drone ideally suited for agricultural applications.

India has begun employing drones for agricultural work to apply agrochemicals, fertilizers and other nutrients. They can operate in multiple modes tending to cash crops, food crops, horticulture crops and large-scale plantations.

The important role of drones in agriculture, industry and the military could be gauged by the investments made by several other leading Indian blue-chip companies, such as Reliance Industries, Tata Advanced Systems etc., which have acquired companies that have mastered drone technology.

One of the several drones Pathfinder proposes introducing to Sri Lanka is a UAV that can spray agricultural land and plantations with agrochemicals or fertilizers. Aerial spraying using low-flying drones could prevent pests such as the fall armyworm that attacks maize plantations or the white fly, which has spread its wings across the island, devastating crops and coconut plantations.

Similarly, drones equipped for spraying could assist tea and rubber plantations as well as paddy fields, which need either nutrients in the form of special fertilizer or agrochemicals to respond to attacks by insects, viruses, bacteria, etc.

The primary advantage of deploying drones is that a drone can cover an acre of land within 10–15 minutes, whereas a labourer will use a much longer time to cover the same area. An added advantage is that treatment dispensed by drones will spread evenly, thereby preventing excessive use of nutrients and pesticides.

Inaugurating the Drone Festival held in May 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would soon be a leading country employing drone technology. He highlighted that his government had removed numerous restrictions applicable to the sector through new amendments introduced in July 2022.

Through the new regulations amending the Drone Rules 2021, Indian authorities have liberalized the rules and regulations applied to the usage of drones. For example, with new regulations, a drone carrying goods for delivery, etc. can travel ‘beyond the visual line of sight’ (BVLOS), covering a distance of even hundreds of kilometres. In the case of Sri Lanka, the local authorities permit drones to fly based on the ‘visual line of sight’ (VLOS), which restricts the ability of the operator to move drones beyond a specific distance.

The new amendments introduced by India have also abolished the need for a ‘Remote Pilot Licence’ for an individual to operate a drone. Under the recent amendment, authorized training institutes will be eligible to issue ‘Remote Pilot Certificates’ (RPCs). Consequently, an RPC issued by a training institution will be sufficient to operate drones. Previously, only the Indian Director General of Civil Aviation had the power to issue such a certificate.

In the first instance, Pathfinder Capital proposes introducing drones that could be used for agricultural purposes and negotiating later with the authorities to deploy drones for inspection work such as powerlines, pipelines, telecom towers, etc.

During the second stage, Pathfinder is confident that Sri Lanka will emulate India and remove restrictions against drones deployable over distances beyond the ‘line of sight’, which will facilitate the movement of goods such as health products swiftly across the island to meet emergencies.

Pathfinder Capital is a member of MMBL-Pathfinder Group, which has invested in ‘Cinnamon Air’, a pioneering domestic aviation project that offers scheduled and charter flights within the island employing wheeled and amphibious aircraft. In the recent past, Pathfinder Capital has established a network to acquire knowledge to introduce drone technology to Sri Lanka for commercial applications.

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