Four pilots injured in the incident, which reportedly took place while they were recharging a drone
Probing details of the incident, will issue additional SOPs for drone customers: ideaForge
The reports of the incident came on the same day when the startup received the approval from SEBI for its IPO
A drone belonging to deeptech startup ideaForge exploded into flames in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh on April 27, injuring four persons.
As per reports, the incident took place at around 8 PM when a team of four pilots was trying to recharge the drone battery for the SWAMITVA mapping scheme. All the injured persons were moved to a local hospital and two of them were said to be in critical condition.
Confirming the development, ideaForge told Inc42 the company was probing the incident and would issue additional standard operating procedures (SOPs) for its customers.
“The details of the incident are being ascertained at this stage… While we are always cautious and inform all our clients on how to take care of their UAVs, in light of this incident, we will be reiterating and issuing additional SOPs for our customers. We have been in the industry for more than a decade and it’s the first time an incident of this nature has been reported to us and is really unfortunate,” a company spokesperson said.
The drone which exploded was IdeaForge’s Q6, which recently received the type certification from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The injured pilots were working with a local company called Navbharat Explosive. Meanwhile, taking cognisance of the matter, the local police dispatched officers to probe the matter and file a detailed report. The local authorities also collected all necessary evidence for submission to the concerned authorities.
News agency ANI reported that a complaint in the matter was also lodged with the DGCA, which commenced a probe into the incident.
The incident came close on the heels of a spate of similar fire incidents involving electric vehicles (EVs).
According to industry experts, the drone explosion was prima-facie emblematic of the larger problems with lithium-ion batteries. They said manufacturers should further enhance battery-related SOPs and ensure stringent compliance with battery safety norms.
The reports of the incident came on the same day when the startup received the approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for its initial public offering. ideaForge filed its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) with the markets regulator in February.
Founded in 2007 by Ankit Mehta, Ashish Bhat, Rahul Singh and Vipul Joshi, ideaForge manufactures drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The startup counts marquee names such as Infosys, Qualcomm, IndusAge Partners, and Celesta Capital among its backers.
The drone explosion could adversely impact the fortunes of the burgeoning startup-led drone ecosystem in the country. Aarav Unmanned Systems, Dhaksha Unmanned Systems, DroneAcharya, Garuda Aerospace are among the major startups in the space.
The Centre is betting big on the drone industry and has undertaken a slew of reforms, ranging from offering production linked incentives (PLI) to boost local manufacturing to amending rules to liberalise the space, for companies and startups in the sector.
According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the size of the Indian drone sector is expected to grow to INR 12,000 Cr-INR 15,000 Cr by 2026.