A group of researchers from IIT Kharagpur have indigenously developed a drone for surveillance and para-dropping purposes. The team was lead by Prof Sudip Misra and the drone was developed by the Smart Wireless Applications & Networking (Swan) laboratory in the institute. The cost of the drone has been brought down by 30 percent compared to other similar drones available in the market.
The researchers were able to cut costs by getting rid of features that were not necessary for the kind of drone Bhim is. There are for example, no hardware technologies on board for stabilising the images. Algorithms are used instead of hardware for stabilisation of the images. Some of the components of the drone have been 3D printed, which has helped reduce the cost of the drone further.
The drone has features that make it appropriate for support missions to defense forces positioned along the borders of India. The drone can stay airborne for extended periods of time, and drop emergency supplies through parachutes. Bhim drone can be configured to conduct integrity checks on boundary walls and identify breaches. The researchers have also created a graphic user interface for accessing images captured by the drone, and for the fine grained control over various communication tasks.
The drone is meant to be used in remote and rural areas. The drone has an in-built wi-fi hotspot, which can be used to deliver internet coverage in areas without service. The wireless capabilities of the drone means that Bhim has applications as a command and control hub for swarms of autonomous robots.
The drone has been adapted to be useful in the agricultural sector as well. While drones are used in developed nations to monitor land use in farms, the approach is not useful in India considering the relatively smaller land holdings by farmers. Bhim has the ability to zoom in and track only a portion of the land in view of its cameras. The Bhim drone can take two different images simultaneously, from two different aligned cameras.
Professor Misra wants the drone to be put into use to address societal problems. IIT-KGP is looking to collaborate with any researchers, government bodies or private organisations for transfer of technologies. The drone has so many unique functions because each of the six people on the team were working on different capabilities for Bhim. The drone has been named after Bhim, the second of the five Pandavas.