Honeywell Technology Solutions will launch an Advanced Air Mobility Lab dedicated to drone testing in Madurai as it sees the drone sector as a big market opportunity in the country, especially from a defence drone perspective, according to a top company executive.

The outdoor facility is around 40,000 sq. feet (70 per cent of a football field), and the space is covered with a net at 80 feet height, said Niranjan Kalyandurg, Vice-President, Aero India Leader, Honeywell Technology Solutions.

The lab, which will be a part of Honeywell Madurai, will have an indoor and outdoor facility; and is expected to be launched in August or September.

Elaborating on setting up the facility, he said the key objectives of the facility include verifying and validating the algorithms, technologies, and solutions developed by Honeywell, enabling the eco-system, in particular, the students from universities, to use the facility and gain practical knowledge on UAS and advanced air mobility systems, and demonstrating different technologies and products on UAS and advanced air mobility to regional customers in India.

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From a drone point of view, the company is keen on forming multiple strategic partnerships with local drone manufacturers, such as those for navigation equipment. “We are also working on drone technologies such as anti-jamming (GPS jamming)—basically, jammers confuse drones, and we are trying to work on a solution for the same.”

“In the case of drones, we see a great market opportunity across various activities. Today, drones can be anyone across various sectors, and we see a great market opportunity in the short term in the country,” he added.

Urban air mobility

In addition to drones, urban air mobility (UAM) is another area of interest for the company. However, the company feels that in India, it is still too soon to decide where and to what extent the market opportunities are available in the segment, “but this is one of the key areas of interest for the company in the future,” he noted. In regards to urban air mobility on a global level, it is working with 5–6 companies, such as Lilium.

Also read: Garuda Aerospace, HAL subsidiary tie up for drone manufacture

Over the last 29 years, the company has invested $130 million in establishing more than 10 aero labs across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Madurai.

Overall, the company’s aerospace division employs 3,000 people, while Honeywell employs more than 13,000 across its verticals in the country. Honeywell generates $1 billion from its domestic sales and exports in India, while globally in 2022 it made revenues of $35.5 billion, with the aerospace division contributing $11.8 billion. The aerospace business unit of the company builds aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity systems, mechanical components and more.