The whole country was amazed when a 1,000 drones lit up the Delhi skies at the Beating Retreat ceremony that marked the end of this year’s Republic Day celebrations. The drone light show that was designed using indigenously developed drones and related technology was the highlight of the ceremony.
The hard work and determination of a team of 45 drone technology experts of BotLab Dynamics, which is based at the IIT, Delhi, had truly paid off when the whole country applauded their efforts.
The team now aims to amaze the world by putting up a mega show using 7,500 drones, at the forthcoming Independence Day.
Drone cameras are really common these days. However, not many know that these drones could also be used to spray pesticides in farmlands or to deliver goods. The ‘Kisan Drone’ project was announced in the recent Union Budget. Moreover, the government has relaxed the rules and regulations regarding flying drones in the country.
Countless openings in drone industry
From making drones and software development to nuanced technology, the drone industry offers countless openings and opportunities. Prime Air is a drone delivery service developed by Amazon. The corporate giant had recently held mass recruitment in Texas for around 161 job roles. Besides drone pilot, the job openings were for systems engineer, hardware development engineer, software development engineer, maintenance tech and research science.
The growing number of drone start-ups show that India too is interested in this technology, including in the defence sector.
Drone light shows reportedly have incredible scope in the entertainment industry. There are 5 designers, at BotLab, just to design the animation for various drone light shows. There are drones that can travel even under water. The underwater drones that are developed by EyeROV, a start-up based in Kochi Maker Village have been used to observe dams and bridges or monitor the oil spillage in the oceans and deep-sea pipelines.
As per the law that came into existence in India, last year, the remote pilot certificate issued by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is required to fly the drones that weigh above 250 gms. This five-day course is available at many institutes include Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udaan Academy (IGRUA – Drone Destination) that functions under the aviation ministry.
The aspirants have to study many aspects like aerodynamic theories, climate, radio telephony and drone laws in this course. Besides, there are lots of similar courses on online platforms like the Coursera.
How the drone light show was pulled off
Sarita Ahlawat, one of the founders of BotLab Dynamics in IIT, Delhi, speaks to Manorama about how they managed to fly 1,000 drones above Rahstrapati Bhavan.
“The drone light show that was seen over the Rashtrapathi Bhavan had lasted just ten minutes. However, it took months of hard work to make it happen. Everything including the drones, flight controller and GPS simulation were developed by us. One thousand drones were connected to a single network and was operated by an operator using a single computer. There was only one software that gave the instructions.
For instance, if we wanted to show the shape of a globe, it would be drawn on a paper first. This would then be turned into 3D animation using software. The next step is simulation. We need to check whether the drones would fly without crashing with each other using the simulation software. The simulation is done by considering many factors including the speed of the wind in the area and the speed of the drones. After this, the drones would be placed at specific distance in an open ground, which is then followed by take off.
The safety of the drones was ensured using GPS location. Geo fencing was done by marking the specified region with the help of GPS. The drones were designed to crash land in case one of them lost control and gets out of this digital fence.”
“You could expect the use of drones in every area, from supplying medicines in distant places to pizza delivery, soon. Drone shows could be the next big thing at wedding functions. After the entertainment industry, drones have great scope in defence,” Prof V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT, Delhi.
“After the drone laws in India was relaxed, various drone start-ups in the country had secured contracts worth more than Rs 500 crore, from multiple sectors including defence. There would be lots of opportunities in the fields of drone making, servicing and training. Moreover, the ‘Drone as a Service’ (DaaS) sector too is likely to get strengthened”. Smith Shah, President, Drone Federation of India.