Anna varsity team scouts for commercial orders for UAVs

Anna varsity team scouts for commercial orders for UAVs
After proving their mettle by assisting in rescue missions like the Chennai deluge in 2016 and Uttarakhand floods in 2013, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) developed by a team from Anna University are ready for commercial opportunities at Aero India 2017.

Centre for Aerospace Research, Madras Institute of Technology, Anna University, has set up a stall at Aero India 2017 to demonstrate its indigenous UAVs to end-users like international players and government agencies.

The team of PhD scholars and scientists, lead by director Dr K Senthil Kumar has been working since 2000 to design and develop UAVs at the centre. With Rs 20 crore funding from the State Planning Commission of Tamil Nadu, they have perfected their Quad Copter UAVs, Fixed Wing UAVs and Tethered UAVs. “True to the spirit of Make in India, 70 to 80% of our UAVs are made using parts in India. Even when we have imported materials, the testing and deployment have been done locally,” Dr Kumar said.

The centre has proved the utility of its products and the Tamil Nadu police are using their drones for crowd monitoring at festivals. “In 2014, when an under construction building in Chennai collapsed, thermal cameras fitted on our UAVs were used to detect those who were alive, and rescue them,” said Dr S Thamarai Selvi, part of the team and director of the Centre for Technology Development and Transfer, Anna University. “More recently, they helped the Kerala police with crowd surveillance during the Makara Jyothi in Sabarimala temple and even mapped the massive oil spill in Chennai in January caused by a collision of two ships.

She said the demand for UAVs in the government is growing as they learn about its applications in surveillance, forest cover mapping, crop surveys and more.

“We have done several projects in these fields and we have supplied our products to police of Tamil Nadu, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. But we need to make more people aware of our work. Through Aero India 2017, we hope to reach out to more people and make our presence known,” Dr Selvi said.

Indian Air Force and Coast Guard teams visited the stall and expressed interest in inducting the UAVs, Dr Kumar said.

“This is only the second day and we have got many enquiries. The response is better than what we expected. People are curious because we are the only educational institution here,” he said.
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