A group of students at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur is developing drones using indigenous hardware and software, officials said. The drones, being developed under the institute’s Aerial Robotics Kharagpur (ARK) initiative, are being given shape at the Centre for Excellence in Robotics, funded by the Sponsored Research & Industrial Consultancy (SRIC) facility of the Institute. The Centre has received funding from the Institute to the extent of Rs 5 crore for 12 projects. “Under the ARK initiative, drones are being developed, which would be capable of autonomous flight, localisation in GPS-denied environments, and tracking and interacting with mobile ground robots as well as other drones, and much more,” said Somesh Kumar of the Department of Mathematics, who is heading the initiative.
The ARK initiative aims to develop a flexible aerial robotics framework, which can be easily used to control aerial vehicles and eventually move to multiple decentralised aerial robot swarms in an outdoor setting.
“The ARK initiative intends to develop drones using indigenous hardware and software. These have various applications, including tracking during search and rescue operations,” Kumar said.
“There are several areas where aerial robots can be deployed, such as agriculture technology, mine surveying, surveillance, etc. Aerial robots can be deployed in all those areas where human interaction is impossible either because of life risks or because of inaccessibility,” said Gaurav Gardi, a Fourth-Year student of M.Sc. Physics working in the project.
The group participated in the International Aerial Robotics Competition at Beijing, in China, in September.
The ARK was the only team from India, which participated in the competition at the Asia-Pacific venue.
The team participated with a ‘hexacopter’ designed by the students and completely made of wood. The team was awarded ‘Best Team Cooperation Award’ for its performance.
The team members were Soumyadeep Mukherjee, Aditya Agarwal, Gaurav Gardi, Kumar Ankit, Kumar Krishna Agarwal, Manash Pratim Das, Sai Ram and Vishnu Sharma.