“We have already tested the prototype and we will commercialise it soon,” said Gunvanta V Mate, project manager at BEL, which demonstrated the indigenously developed blue camouflage-printed drone at the Aero India 2019.
The UAV system, which weighs nine kg and is as big as a coffee table, can be launched from a shipboard, mobile ground vehicle, fixed platforms and can be used as a virtual telescopic mast. What makes the drone special is that it is equipped with night and day ultra-high definition cameras which have a zooming capacity of up to 2 km. “So, we don’t need to move anywhere. We can just zoom to identify the number plate of a (suspicious) car far away from here,” said Muralidharan P, technical assistant at Anna University. It took a team of about 85 people mainly comprising of students and professors to build the drone in just four months. “BEL is a very big company, but they approached us because they knew we have good skills (in this field),” said Muralidharan.
The tether of the UAV consists of power and data cables which helps in providing continuous power and high bandwidth and secured communication. Another specialty of the drone is that, its system is jam or hack-proof, unlike the normal drones.
Experts say scaling up such partnerships between industry, academia and startups are critical. With 22.5 per cent of the world’s UAV imports, India tops the list of drone-importing nations, according to the data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Business conglomerate Adani Group also showcased some of its wares including Hermes 900, one of the most advanced UAV systems in the world. Adani and Israel-based Elbit Systems have formed a joint venture to design, develop, maintain and upgrade Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 UAV in India.