Underwater robotics startup Planys raises Rs 14 Cr; to focus on inspecting ageing infrastructure

27th Feb 2018
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Planys Technologies, a startup incubated at IIT Madras Incubation Cell and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for compact underwater robots (remotely operated vehicles or ROVs), announced on Tuesday that it had closed Rs 14 crore in Series A funding led by ONGC Startup Fund, and Ranjan Pai’s MEMG family office.

Infosys Co-Founder and Chairman, Axilor Ventures Kris Gopalakrishnan, Keiretsu Forum (Chennai and Singapore) and others also participated in the round. With this funding round, Planys, co-founded by Vineet Upadhyay, Rakesh Sirikonda, Tanuj Jhunjhunwala, Prabhu Rajagopal and Krishnan Balasubramaniam, aims to expand its ROV robotic fleet, fund product development, and scale up operations.

Story so far

Planys Technologies' story begins in 2012 when a team of students including Vineet Upadhyay and Rakesh Sirikonda represented IIT Madras at an annual international autonomous underwater robotics (AUV) competition held in San Diego. After two years of hard work, they won the national round organised by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), and represented India at the international competition.

Taking inspiration, Tanuj Jhunjhunwala took up his Master's thesis on underwater robotic inspection under the guidance of Prabhu Rajagopal, Faculty at IIT Madras and co-founder of Planys. After a year of research, they demonstrated pipeline inspection by an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) using ultrasonic guided waves.

Related read- [Tech30] How these IIT-M alumni, professors are bringing research out from the labs and onto the field

Fast forward to the present day, Planys designs and manufactures compact remotely operated vehicles, which are underwater drones to provide inspection and survey services. Planys' technology spans the domains of marine robotics, advanced Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), and post-inspection analysis tools.

Planys brings technology and innovations in underwater robotics and diagnostics to the Indian markets in the shallow depth segment. The startup aims to cover the breadth of inspection solutions from customised design and fabrication of robotic platforms to integrated sensing and diagnostics. Talking about their progress, Vineet, Co-founder and CTO of Planys noted,

We have innovated a technology solution that integrates advanced underwater sensing/diagnostics for various industries, has an ability to go up to depths of 200m and a design-driven ability to integrate multiple payloads. Our solution empowers the site engineers to view live data and direct operations real time – something they have lacked in the past. We have also been successful is creating extremely customized solutions for Indian waters like navigation and data collection in extremely turbid waters. 

The founding team consists of a blend of robotic enthusiasts and Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) experts. Planys’ underwater robotics technology has also been received enthusiastically by the industry, particularly in the Oil and Gas and the Ports/Shipping sectors, reflected in Planys taking 2nd place at the "MIS 2016 - DP World Prize" startup competition and was also one of YourStory's Tech 30 startups in 2016.  

More recently, Planys was also selected as a winner of the 'Entrepreneur Award of Takeda Young Entrepreneurship Award' by the Takeda Foundation, Japan 2016. Planys caters to various traditional sectors like Maritime (Ports, Terminals, Shipping), Infrastructures (Dams & Bridges) & Energy (Oil & Gas, Power, Hydroelectric).

Sector overview and future plans

Ageing infrastructure is a burning problem worldwide, especially when structures are underwater. India has many important infrastructure assets underwater that need regular maintenance and inspection. 

Currently, underwater inspections are done by human divers, with limitations of depth, hazardous conditions, and limited endurance or in a few cases, by using imported work class ROVs. These ROVs are bulky, weigh in tons, have high mobilisation time and are costly. More so, it is estimated that these ROVs are not best suited to be used for shallow water or inspection in rivers/reservoirs etc.

Planys’s vision is to emerge as a world-leading provider of diagnostics-driven marine robotics contributing to safety and longevity of these structures. Ranjan Pai added in a statement,

We see Planys making a huge impact with its disruptive technology, solving problems in very traditional and vital industries for India. Led by a very passionate and energetic team, we are confident that Planys will be a major international player in a few years.

Tanuj, Co-Founder and CEO of Planys, noted that the series A round builds on an exceptional year for Planys. He elaborated,

Having successfully completed over 35 projects spread across multiple sectors with many repeat orders, I think it’s been a fantastic two years for us. We thank our customers, investors and advisors for their constant support and encouragement throughout. With this fund raise, we are on course to create a huge impact and make such technology easily available in India.

Website- Planys Tech

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