A technological ‘marvel’

Futuristic viewThe drone and the Thanos team-Prathyush Akepati, Harish Alladi, Pradeep PalelliSpecial arrangement

Futuristic viewThe drone and the Thanos team-Prathyush Akepati, Harish Alladi, Pradeep PalelliSpecial arrangement  

City startup Thanos is using drones as an effective pesticide-spraying technology

Thanos may be popular as a Marvel character, but also translates into a ‘never ending spirit’ and is an ode to the Greek philosopher Athanasius. The Hyderabad-startup named after the Greek word was established when drones were mostly used by hobbyists, photographers and videographers. Pradeep Palelli, CEO of Thanos, wanted to be more constructive and use drones to solve problems in the society. It took a year’s research to see what could come out of it. Marking a drastic transformation in life of farmers with the usage of an aerial-pesticide spraying technology and eliminating many health hazards that could potentially cause partial blindness among agriculturists, Thanos is moving into the future.

“We talked to hundreds of farmers in the Telugu states. Many complained of the non-availability of labour to spray pesticides in the fields, mostly due to the migration of people to urban areas. Even with the limited labour base, there were delays, complaints of overdosage/ underdosage of pesticides. Ideally, the spraying needs to be done with a helmet and a protective suit, which may not suit our climate conditions. One is prone to health hazards too. That’s when we realised this is an area ready for automation,” Pradeep says.

The startup co-founded by Pradeep and Prathyush Akepati, has Harish Alladi in its technical team and is backed by IIIT and ICRISAT. The tie-up has earned Thanos considerable access to summits/showcases across the country and opened them to a wide investor and academician base. The concept interested politicians, farmers and investors from Srikakulam, East Godavari initially. The regulations pertaining to drones are being worked in different states —Telangana, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Thanos has tied up with field partners across tier-2 and tier-3 towns, with tractor-owners, weeders to take the solution to the market. For now, Thanos is providing the spraying as a service-model to farmers, but more intelligence aspects are being worked on, including identification of specific areas that need pesticides.

“Many progressive farmers have expressed interest to buy the drones. They have the financial capacity, but they need to know more to fulfil it to its maximum capacity. We hire it on a per acre basis now,” Pradeep mentions.

Paradigm shift

How have the farmers reacted to the change? “We are in the process of educating them. Even in the surveying part, many used to wonder if it was a mini helicopter that was landing. The idea of drones is gradually becoming mainstream across the country.”

Thanos takes up a low volume spraying method, uses less chemicals and covers more areas with uniform spreading. The startup is exploring avenues beyond agriculture; they’ve had discussions with the R&D wing of the Indian Army, besides opportunities for greenfield mining.

“We are customising drones for hobbyists and serious operators too, we are also capable of repairing drones that others have built. Some of the other drone applications in future could be its use in emergencies as a first responder, tracking e-waste, for property tax billing and even pollination of flowers. There might be traffic management issues with drones, but that’s a few years away.”


  • Into:Drones for agricultural intelligence, pesticide-spraying

  • To be operational soon in:AP, Telangana, Maharashtra

  • Established in:2016

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