Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee has recently opened a Centre of Excellence for Drone Research on its campus. “The centre is expected to evolve as a unique facility at national level where state-of-the-art and frontier research would be conducted on several aspects of drone technology and its applications,” says Dharmendra Singh, head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT, Roorkee. Several industries are adopting drones to reduce workload, production costs and improve accuracy, work efficiency and productivity. This is being used to resolve security issues on a vast scale. “They are easily penetrating industries and adoption of drone technologies is growing in leaps and bounds as businesses start to realise its potential, scale of the global outreach and scope that comes with this penetration,” says Singh. Wide applications Students have a wide array of applications to research on as drone technology has endless applications. “Drone technology has wide applications ranging from aerial mapping, surveillance & security, industrial inspection, photography & cinematography, agriculture, last-mile delivery, disaster management and military applications,” says Abhinav Rao Varrey, a multi-rotor drone pilot, Indian Institute of Drones, Noida. Drones can be used in rural areas also to improve the living conditions especially to offer healthcare facilities in inaccessible areas. “These communities require faster and vibrant transport system in order to handle the health problems by transporting vaccines, medicines, blood packs from hospitals to health post locations,” says Singh. Course component Drone research is still in its infancy in India, where, only a handful of leading researchers are exploring the capabilities for multiple applications. “A course on drone research would include fundamental knowledge of guidance theory, vision-based guidance, path planning, trajectory optimisation, swarm drones, warfare modelling of drones, computational intelligence and tethered drones,” says Amit Kumar Thakur, associate professor, Department of Aerospace, School of Mechanical Engineering, Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar. Career prospects There is an array of career prospects for professionals in the drone industry. As per the current demand, drone technology and its applications are required in government agencies, agriculture, defence, health department, etc. “Drone research professionals can be absorbed in the fields of terrain mapping and surveying, package delivery, emergency medical supplies and agriculture,” says Thakur. “Some of these roles are drone pilots, drone engineers (aeronautical and aerospace), drone maintenance personnel, artificial intelligence engineers, embedded systems engineers, wireless communication engineers and software developers,” says Varrey.