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Maker Village’s Startup Comes up with Unique UAV to Combat Corona Spread

In Kerala
April 17, 2020

A startup at Maker Village Kochi has developed a drone supported with artificial intelligence (AI) that can help combat Covid-19 by monitoring body temperature, supplying essential commodities and spraying disinfectants.

The unmanned ‘Garud’ has been designed and engineered by AI Aerial Dynamics at the Maker Village, which is India’s largest electronic hardware incubator and ESDM facility. The integrated solution was developed fully leveraging globally-benchmarked labs and equipment besides product development software solutions available at Maker Village.

The indigenously-made drone is highly efficient and effective than those currently imported from other countries, where the applicable payload is lower than that of Garud and the option for customization is not possible, officials said today. Garud can monitor roads and bylanes besides residential pockets and aerodromes that have been locked down across the country since March 25 in an effort to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus that is posing a global threat to human life. Already, Kerala Police are using the drones to ensure the efficacy of the shutdown.

Also, the aerial vehicle can collect thermal data by using an array of IR sensors and advanced digital technology called EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution), thus working as a means to combat the pandemic.

The vehicle can collect swabs and samples of people for Covid-19 test. It has the capacity to carry weight up to 60 kg, thus facilitating distribution of even essential commodities if there is an exigency. Further, Garud can feature a modern sprayer which can be used to shower disinfectants from above. It has also a loudspeaker for public announcements, according to AI Aerial Dynamics founder-CEO Vishnu V Nath.

“Besides the AI-supported engine, the fully-automated Garud has a high-resolution camera, a facility to carry weight, a micro-sprayer and thermal scanner. The visuals it generates can zoom into specifics with centimeter-level accuracy. The images it captures will be simultaneously saved in the operating unit on the ground,” Nath said. “If the vehicle loses range or exhausts battery (capacity: 150 minutes), it will fly down to the point of take-off.” The UAV uses a hybrid engine for its flight.

The 2016-founded Maker Village, which functions at the Integrated Startup Complex 20 km north of this city, is a joint initiative of Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Government of Kerala with IIITM-K in Thiruvananthapuram as the nodal agency. IA Aerial Dynamics is also developing drones for the NPOL lab of DRDO and other defence establishments.

The drone is capable of adapting to requirements since it has been developed indigenously. “Its capability to fly with a load weighing as much as 60 kg is one instance of how Garud has an edge over its counterparts in other countries,” Nath added.

The UAV, with its high payload, unique platform for integration of sensors and provisions such as sanitizer and pickup mechanism besides the AI engine, makes the solution a one-of-its kind in combating the pandemic and similar applications in disaster management. The vehicle  was widely used for relief activities during the flood in the year 2019.

A state-of-the-art lab in Maker Village enabled IA Aerial Dynamics to conceive and engineer the prototype for Garud, Nath said. “That is how we could so quickly launch the product in the market,” he pointed out.

Maker Village, which is emerging as the largest and the best deep-tech innovation platform in the country, is implementing various innovation and entrepreneurship development programmes with Ministry of Defence, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of MSME, apart from the flagship ESDM scheme with Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.