Hyderabad, April 6
Researchers on the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Hyderabad have unveiled a working prototype of a flexible drone that adjustments its form to suit the scale of package deal to be lifted.
Suraj Bonagiri, a researcher from the Robotics Research Centre in his analysis on the mechanism behind a reconfigurable quadcopter, highlighted limitations of present supply drones and proposed a novel design.
“Current design of such drones focuses only on the weight of parcels to be lifted ignoring their size. Packages however come in various sizes and is an important parameter to be factored in,” stated the 24-year-old robotics researcher.
According to him, since drones are usually designed to hold particular payloads, forcibly becoming and lifting inappropriate payloads will result in instability, loss in effectivity and even compromise on security.
Unlike different inflexible drones, Suraj’s patent pending design which he calls ‘Elasticopter’ is a dynamic one. Thanks to a flexible chassis and a novel mechanism that expands or collapses, it might grip and match the form of the parcel to be lifted.
With this technique of attachment to cargo, the mass is at all times centred and leads to an optimum battery efficiency. It additionally ranks excessive on the steadiness entrance as a result of distinctive positioning of the propellers.
Explaining how usually airflow from propellers hits the payload inflicting turbulence mid-air, Suraj identified that on this design, there’s zero propwash interference with the payload regardless of its measurement.
Under the steerage of Professors Spandan Roy and Madhava Krishna, Suraj got down to validate the prevalence of his design by way of a collection of simulations evaluating present drones with the Elasticopter.
“We found that in existing drones, even if they can lift and deliver packages of varying shapes, the battery life and flight time is short lived because it’s not done in an optimal manner. And this is especially evident when there are large-scale delivery operations,” he says.
For Suraj who started his analysis journey into the world of drones first as an intern at RRC after which as an MS pupil, IIITH appeared the proper selection.
“I’ve always wanted to start up. And the reason I chose to pursue my Masters here is that the campus not only houses incubators but there’s active commercialization of research through Product Labs. With appropriate advice from the professors here, and access to the resources and tools, I had a rough idea of spinning my thesis into an entrepreneurial venture.” Professor Krishna corroborates Suraj’s ardour by describing him as “an extraordinary and rare student who wanted to innovate at the level of a novel mechanism in flying vehicles.” Creating A Product
Suraj approached Product Labs together with his thought the place he was guided to enroll for the Technology Product Entrepreneurship (TPE) course. “For us, this is a text book case of taking research to the market. And also something that we’ve always wanted to see happen, that is, our students taking their research forward to build products leading to startups. It’s exciting to see some deep research taking shape,” says Prakash Yalla who heads Product Labs, Suraj extensively leveraged the Maker’s Lab and is now pre-incubated at Product Labs. The preliminary prototype he constructed gained him a productization grant of Rs 8 lakh from the institute. Fabrication of the second prototype design utilizing prime quality supplies is at present underway and a business mannequin is predicted to go public by the tip of the 12 months.
“Materials movement is a key use case for this drone design,” says Ramesh Loganathan, Prof. Co-Innovation who heads Outreach at IIITH. According to him, will probably be extremely helpful in warehouses, on manufacturing flooring, e-commerce provide chain operations, medication supply and such the place there are packages of various sizes and frequent motion is required.
While the Elasticopter scores over different supply drones from minimal space for storing it occupies, to the time taken to connect and detach itself to parcels, the researchers envision its relevance and applicability to different common drone functions too.
“I’d like to think of it as a multi-purpose drone. From a large agricultural spray tank for aerial spraying of fertilizers and pesticides to a megaphone for disseminating public information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme or a lockdown situation, the sky is the limit in its application”, added Suraj. IANS