Drones are very quickly morphing into multi-utility Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs. A team of researchers at one of India’s top technology institutions, IIT-Kharagpur has developed a lightweight drone that can serve multiple purposes. Christened BHIM after the solid, dependable Mahabharat character, Bhima, the drone has a state-of-the-art protection shield and superior imagery. The latter allows the UAV to identify crowded areas and subsequently land in safer, less occupied places reports Enterprise Innovation.
The drone is powered by a battery with seven hours of back-up power. This enables it to fly long distances and help with rescue operations in remote or disaster regions, like drop emergency supplies using parachutes. The IIT-Kharagpur team has also designed BHIM so that it can act as a communications network for security forces by creating a 1-km radius Wi-Fi zone when it flies overhead. Sudip Mishra, faculty member of the computer science and engineering department told The Times of India,
Disaster management becomes much easier through seamless wireless communication that only the internet can provide. However, when disaster strikes and Wi-Fi facilities on the ground are destroyed, an aerial Wi-Fi broadcast can come as a boon since radio communication has limited reach.”
In addition to its many advantages, the drone can also conduct integrity checks for boundary walls and find out breaches, if any. The team took care to make the drone out of off-the-shelf indigenous components while ensuring it lightweight yet strong movements. It is a fine example of the incorporation of 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.
The IIT-Kharagpur team presented their hi-tech drone, which comes at one-fourth the cost of an average drone, to a visiting team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).