Indigenous, low-cost drone developed at Indian technology institute

A team of researchers at IIT Kharagpur, one of India’s top technology institutions, have designed the country's first indigenous superpower drone and named it BHIM after a character from the Indian epic, Mahabharata.

The drone, just under a metre in length, has a state-of-the-art protection shield and superior imagery. BHIM can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1-km radius when it flies overhead. Designed for conflict zones, the drone - which has a battery backup of seven hours - can fly into a disaster (or war) zone and create a seamless communication network for security forces, rescue personnel and even the common man.

The real edge of BHIM lies in its ability to maintain long flight times and drop emergency supplies by using parachutes. It can also be used for rescue operations in remote and hard-to-access areas. The drone can conduct integrity checks for boundary walls and find out breaches, if any.

Designed especially for emergency situations, the automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place.

"Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab," according to members of the research team at IIT Kharagpur.

Researchers took care to keep the drone lightweight, but with strong body movements, made of off-the-shelf indigenous components. This ensures that it costs just one-fourth the price of any average drone used for surveillance in India now.

BHIM has been built by using the Internet of Things - the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity -which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.