The Indian Air Force (IAF) has announced the list of winners for the Mehar Baba Swarm Drone Competition.
Launched in October 2018, the Mehar Baba Swarm Drone challenge by the IAF was aimed at encouraging the development of swarm drones for the utilisation of varied domains, including response to disaster relief operations.
The competition was named to honour the late Air Commodore Mehar Singh, and was conceptualised to evolve proprietary design, development, manufacturing and production of low cost-high impact solutions for swarm drone technology. It was open to only indigenous talent and indigenous start-ups.
The award for the best swarm architecture went to Newspace Research Technologies Pvt Ltd, a start-up based out of Bengaluru.
Team Delhi Technological University-Flair Unmanned Systems Pvt Ltd won the award for best communication architecture while Dhaksha Unmanned Systems Pvt Ltd from Anna University, Chennai bagged the prize for the best drone architecture.
Team Veda Defense Systems Pvt Ltd, a start-up based out of Noida, was given the award for best innovation in design.
The finalists had demonstrated their innovations during ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebrations at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka on October 24. The occasion marked the victory of India over Pakistan in the 1971 war
The IAF received 154 applications from across the country. It had constituted a panel of domain specialists and experts known as the Committee of Experts (CoEs). After the screening, the CoEs shortlisted 57 teams.
IAF mentored the participating teams during the entire course of the competition. Based on operational requirements and the objectives of the competition, the flying and technical evaluation of the fielded products was carried out. The prototypes were evaluated in a realistic environment at Air Force Air to Ground ranges.
The competition culminated with five finalists showcasing capabilities at Pokhran in March this year. The design and development cost of the prototypes was compensated by IAF.
Last month, the Indian Army had placed a Rs 200-crore order of swarm drones. Bengaluru-based start-up NewSpace Research and Tech is working with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to develop a futuristic air-launched swarm drone system called the Combat Air Teaming System.
Swarm drones work together in algorithms—swarming is achieved by developing the capability of each drone to not strike another drone while in formation.
Sameer Joshi, CEO of Newspace Research and Technology, said that the new drone policy of the government is a big leap. “Now anybody can fly drones. However, the next challenge is to work on the development of hardware like motors and propellers, etc. As far as the military usage of drones is concerned across the world, it is seen that the military ecosystem has helped the civilian ecosystem to grow. Reconnaissance, offensive capabilities and electronic warfare are the areas where drones can be used for the military,” he said.