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When desi helicopter drones hovered with pride at the India Pavilion

Last Updated : 06 February 2021, 01:48 IST
Last Updated : 06 February 2021, 01:48 IST
Last Updated : 06 February 2021, 01:48 IST
Last Updated : 06 February 2021, 01:48 IST

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Helicopter drone startups, with DRDO and army tie-ups, showcase strides in desi technology at the India Pavilion of Aero India 2021 on Friday. DH PHOTO/RASHEED KAPPAN
Helicopter drone startups, with DRDO and army tie-ups, showcase strides in desi technology at the India Pavilion of Aero India 2021 on Friday. DH PHOTO/RASHEED KAPPAN
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Designed, developed and delivered to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) by an individual drone operator, Chakra, two helicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) sat at the India Pavilion showing off their prowess to withstand heavy weather, one engine-powered and another battery-operated.

So did a contra-rotating drone developed by a startup AEthrone Aerospace, to generate more lift and boost stability, with a high-altitude range of 5-6 km.

Symbolising deepening industry-academia collaboration, another helicopter drone jointly developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur with a startup, was displayed too with a promise of extended flight time.

These exhibits were just three of a long line of displays at the India Pavilion that attracted attention at the Aero India 2021 for its ‘Rotary Wing’ theme this time. Showcased were the products of a growing list of startups and MSMEs that have partnered with Indian aerospace companies in helicopter and rotary drone manufacturing with a firm thrust on self-reliance.

Chakra AD, Bengaluru-based drone operator Adarsh N’s UAV was driven by electric power and belonged to the 12-kg weight category. The fully autonomous drone had a maximum endurance of 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the payload.

“Made for silent and stealth operation, this UAV is capable of vertical takeoff and landing in constrained spaces. Payloads can be configured for day/night surveillance or for combat/ammunition,” Adarsh told DH. The Chakra PR is powered by a 26 cc petrol engine.

Working closely with DRDO to design, develop and build more such products, Adarsh said a few of these UAVs have already been supplied for both surveillance and combat roles. “Adhering to the Atmanirbar condition, a lot of UAV technologies, control algorithms and hardware are now being developed in India. For this UAV, the whole airframe was developed here.”

The next stage is the local manufacture of engines. This, he felt, could be highly challenging. But for now, the strides made by the startups in the growing UAV field was impressive.

One of them had showcased the Switch UAV, a drone customised for the Indian Army’s high altitude operations, ready to increase its linear
coverage by 46 times. It claimed guaranteed tactical dominance during Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations.

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Published 05 February 2021, 19:10 IST

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