The local drone and the story behind it

The Advanced Computing Development Center (C-DAC) of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is the leading organization for research and development in IT, electronics and related fields . The organization is currently working in the fields of Exascale Computing, Quantum Computing, IoT and Blockchain along with many others.

Recently C-DAC launched their own drone, Indus Helicopter, developed on a local board: Indus IoT. C-DAC says the drone can help find infected regions in agricultural fields, monitor the health of lakes or even monitor air quality at different levels. to know more, India Analytical Journal contacted C-DAC.

OBJECTIVE: What is the difference between Indus IoT and the other boards available on the market?

When you look at the differences between the current board we are offering and the boards available in the market with similar functionality, the main difference is how we support sensor interfaces.

When you look at other market products, if you have to integrate a sensor with that board, you have to stack another board, which has the sensor on it. On the other hand, Indus IoT comes with six sensors which we are offering at the competitive price that the market generally offers in other boards without all these sensors on board. So, this is the main USP that our board comes with.

OBJECTIVE: How was the drone conceived?

In October 2021, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship visited C-DAC’s Bangalore facility and during that time launched our Indus Council IoT.

During the launch, he suggested why not turn this board into a drone controller. Following the suggestion, we started working on the drone. Keeping Indus IoT as the controller, we started looking for potential applications that traditional drone developers at the time weren’t considering.

As a result, we came across the quality of water distributed in lakes and agricultural fields affected by the infections. There was no application to separate such types of lakes or fields, so we started working on a drone with such applications in mind.

CHALLENGE: The drone has USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 or USB Type-C, why?

We need to understand that for any drone or any piece of equipment, there will be multiple use cases at the same time. We shouldn’t use it just because the technology is available. It is based on costs and supply chain requirements.

Although our system falls under micro drones, the application platform does not change. Since we also want to make this development platform for people to learn drone applications, it should also be as convenient as possible for people to experience.

The bandwidth requirement comes when we stream video through the drone, which we have dealt with. All data can be transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth. USB is only required when the drone needs an upgrade and thus, USB 2.0 is ideal according to our needs.

OBJECTIVE: AI in drones is a core technology, why doesn’t Indus Copter have it?

You are right, AI is a very important part of the drone ecosystem nowadays. We have a model coming in a couple of months that will have AI capabilities on board.

We’re also working on two approaches, one is sort of edge computing on the drone and then we have a dedicated server for the other computing. So, it’s kind of like two computers working together in sync to improve the data in real time. All this is coming out very fast and we are also having a discussion with an IIT professor who is working in this field.

AIM: You are also working on Blockchain elections, what’s stopping you from implementing it?

It is not only the vote, but the whole process that needs to be innovated, for example, by guaranteeing access to the vote by the candidate or verifying his identity. The blockchain will only ensure that integrity is maintained, and it’s not about incorrect claims or anything like that. The design eliminates a single point of failure and inherently protects sensitive government and citizen data.

However, the executive part requires the definition of a long process which should be agreed by the Electoral Commission. When the administrative authorities agree on the big one, only then can it move forward. Similar is the case with decentralized identity. The concept is revolutionary but India has about 1.3 billion people and depends on the administration how it goes now.

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