Here's how these drone startups can help in rescue operations in Bihar floods
Bihar, the state that is most prone to floods in India, has been witnessing heavy rainfall over the past few days. As rivers swell up due to heavy rains, the state battles another round of floods and normal life has been thrown out of gear.
A red warning was issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which compelled the authorities in the region to begin rescue operations. Based on past history, 76 percent of Northern Bihar is under the constant threat of floods, while 16.5 percent of the total flood affected area in India is in Bihar.
In the past, many flood-affected states in the country have benefited from drone technology for rescue operations including the Uttarakhand floods in 2013 and the Kerala floods in 2018. Drones are most commonly used for surveying locations that cannot be accessed by vehicles or workers. Surveying roads, flooded areas or congested city landscapes are the appropriate assignments for drone technology.
Here are a few drone technology startups from the country that have helped with floods in the past, and could be of immense help in flood-affected Bihar.
Netra by ideaForge
ideaForge, an IIT-Bombay based company that deals with alternative energy charging devices, built a product named Netra, an autonomously hovering UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Netra was put to significant use during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, for assistance in rescue operations. Multiple devices were deployed to scan air space and locate missing people.
Netra is shaped like a spider and weighs less than 1.5 kg. It looks like it is only a speck when flying at a height, but it can give real time inputs to the team controlling it on the ground.
Redwing Aerospace, a Bengaluru-based drone delivery startup goes beyond the idea of using drones for food-delivery or ecommerce. Targeting a deeper use-case, the team decided to use drones to deliver medicines, vaccines, and blood to the most remote parts of the world. In regions where getting a truck, van, or even a bike to deliver medical essentials is next to impossible, Redwing's drones come to the rescue.
The delivery works on a hub-and-spoke model. The team gets a message on the inventory needed. This is loaded at the central hub , and the drones take off, after the regular pre-flight tests and checks of wind conditions, audio pilot systems, and GPS tracker. The coordinates are fed into the systems and the health examiner picks up the vials at the drop-off point.
The startup may not have the permission to operate in India yet, but it is now focusing on delivering medicine and healthcare supplies to remote regions in other countries, like Papua New Guinea.
Vizag-based Saif Automation, a lifeguard startup, has built an unmanned remote-controlled water drone in 2017, that has uses in both defence and civilian sectors.
The idea of the startup was to produce a 'Sea Water Drone', that can be deployed in an emergency situation arising at sea or in water bodies. It aims to help reduce incidents of drowning in places where the drone is deployed.
Co-founder, Saif Automation, Aliasgar Calcuttawala (Right).
The drone has a dedicated radio communication from its remote to the craft, which is independent on internet or any tower signal. Aliasgar Calcuttawala, founder of Saif Automation said,
This is particularly helpful because, in the event of a cyclone or earthquake. There will be network issues, and so we worked on free radio frequency. The drone once thrown on a water surface can go at a speed of 7 knots.
If a crew member sees a person drowning, they can immediately throw the drone out into the sea. With the handheld remote, they can control and manoeuvre the drone until it reaches and picks the drowning person and comes back to the ship or boat. The startup has designed more than 12 models of the drone for different purposes - tourism and entertainment, saving lives, surveillance, delivering medicines in flood-affected areas.
Aarav Unmanned Systems
Founded in 2013, the use-cases for the startup's commercial-grade drones include mapping of mines, forest cover, search and rescue operations, damage assessment after disaster relief, and property mapping for taxation. Aarav Unmanned Systems provides solutions across infrastructure design and development, urban and rural planning and surface transport and agriculture and irrigation.
It had recently worked with the Kerala Government to ascertain damage caused by the floods of 2018. The startup has already mapped out large parts of Punjab and Maharashtra, working with their local governments, and it has also mapped mines in Telangana.
Gurugram-based R2Robotronics built its flagship product DROSNAS (Drone Swarm Navigation System) in 2017, for the GIS (geographic information system). The product helps users fly their drones using its interface and specify the points for data collection, after which the drones fly autonomously. After collecting the data, the device relays it back to R2's cloud network, where it is crunched, analysed and then the insights are shared with the user.
Since it is a centrally monitored system, all the information about the drone fleet is available at one place. One can monitor the drones operating from anywhere in the world. This technology enables even regulatory bodies to maintain supervision over the flights that have been logged into the system. Being hardware and software-independent, DROSNAS is compatible with most of the drones in the market.