India’s second-largest IT company is now backing a homegrown drone startup.
Infosys has invested an undisclosed amount in ideaForge, a startup focused on research, development, and production of compact unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Bengaluru-based software giant said on Dec. 14.
Founded in 2007 by IIT-Bombay alumni, Ankit Mehta, Rahul Singh, and Ashish Bhat, Mumbai-based ideaForge counts Indian armed forces as its clients, Infosys said.
“ideaForge’s UAVs have been widely deployed by the Indian armed forces for surveillance, crowd monitoring, and rescue operations, and offer a compelling solution for commercial applications in verticals such as energy, utilities, telecom, and agriculture,” Infosys said.
The firm was incubated at IIT-Bombay’s startup incubator, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The company has developed its flagship product, NETRA, in collaboration with India’s Defense Research Development Organisation.
NETRA is a UAV that can be launched from a small clearing by the roadside and fly up to a height of 400 meters while continuously sending real-time video of every movement on the ground. “It is autonomous—it is indigenous and ready to be deployed for counter-insurgency, border management, hostage situations, disaster management or simply crowd control,” according to ideaForge’s website.
Incidentally, private organisations and individuals in India are barred from flying drones due to public safety and national security concerns. However, the armed forces use UAVs. For instance, the surgical strikes by the Indian forces on terrorist hideouts in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were reportedly filmed using drones. Drones have also been used by the police for traffic and crowd management. The Mumbai police used them during the Ganpati festival this year.
Meanwhile, this appears to be a good week for drones. Just yesterday (Dec. 14), Amazon made its first fully-autonomous drone delivery to a customer in the UK.
ideaForge did not respond to a request for interaction from Quartz.
Infosys has made the investment from its $500-million Innovation Fund launched in 2015. The fund operates like a venture capital firm and backs startups working in domains relevant to Infosys’s core business.