Conducting tests on model fighter planes while simulating the sound and wind speed of the skies had always had a basic snag. No human being could be put in the pilots position given the high wind velocity and sound that had to be replicated.
The solution to this very pertinent problem for the Indian Air Force came from the backyard of Pune. The Dhayari-based Precision Automation and Robotics India (PARI) Ltd developed a robot solution; the aircraft model is mounted on a robot,which can be manipulated as per changing conditions to give the data required to pass or modify the model.
We got the project about three years ago and delivered the robot to the Ministry of Defence a year ago. Since then it has apparently been used for hundreds of blow-downs (high speed wind conditions) on various aircrafts, said Ranjit Date,president and joint managing director of PARI,the only company in the country to have successfully deployed this robotic technology for aircraft.
This is just one of many projects of national interest that the Rs 250-crore company is involved in. About 80 per cent of our projects are to do with the industrial sector from where we get our bread and butter. But at least 10 per cent of our resources are occupied in taking up such challenges that may not be commercially viable but excite us as technocrats, said Date,who started PARI in 1990 with his colleague Mangesh Kale,an enterprise they conceived during their higher studies in the US.
The robot solution for model aircraft is not the only project of national importance that PARI has been involved in. Over the past decade it has worked on testing of the manufacturing process for ammunition for bombshells in ordnance factories,the hazards involved for human beings in nuclear waste disposal,handling of nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants,inspection of structures under radioactive conditions and,very recently,fully robotic fabrication of the rolling stock of Indian Railways that turned a high-cost,low-quality process into a high-quality,low-cost one. The company has also worked in collaboration with the DRDO for a robotic solution for the detection and detonation of explosives.
PARI is now studying surgical applications of robots. The potential is huge for robots,given the limitations doctors face in performing precise manipulations. Plus robots can also help to keep the process minimally invasive, said Date.