C-DAC’s ‘Indus Copter’: The Homegrown Drone and the Story Behind It

Recently, C-DAC launched its own drone, Indus Copter; To know more, Analytics India Magazine reached out to them.
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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)’s Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is the leading organisation for research and development in IT, electronics, and related fields. The organisation is currently working in the fields of Exascale Computing, Quantum Computing, IoT, and Blockchain along with several others. 

Recently C-DAC launched its own drone, Indus Copter, developed on a homegrown board—Indus IoT. C-DAC claims that the drone can help in finding the infected regions in agriculture fields, to check on the health of the lakes, or even help check the air-quality at different levels. To know more, Analytics India Magazine reached out to C-DAC. 

AIM: What is the difference between Indus IoT and other boards available in the market?

When you look at the differences between the current board that we are offering and available boards in the market of similar functionalities, the major difference comes in the way that we support sensor interfaces. 

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When you look at other market products, if you have to integrate a sensor with that board, you need to stack up another board, which has the sensor on it. On the other hand, Indus IoT comes with six sensors which we are offering at the competitive price that the market generally offers in other boards without all these sensors onboard. So, that’s the major USP that our board comes with.

AIM: How did the drone get conceptualised? 

In October 2021, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the union minister in the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship visited C-DAC’s Bangalore facility and happened to launch our Indus IoT board during that time. 

While launching, he suggested that why not make this board a drone controller. Acting on the suggestion, we started working on the drone. Keeping Indus IoT as the controller, we started looking for potential applications that the traditional drone developers at the time were not considering. 

As a result, we stumbled upon distributed water quality in lakes as well as the agriculture fields affected with infections. There was no application to segregate such types of lakes or fields, and thus we started working on a drone keeping such applications in mind.

AIM: The drone has USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 or USB C-type, why is that?

We need to understand that for all the drones or any equipment, there will be multiple use cases at the same time. We should not use it just because technology is available. It is based on the supply chain costing and requirements. 

While our system comes under micro drones, the application platform does not change. As we also want to make this a development platform for people to learn drone applications, it also should be as cost-effective as possible for people to experiment.

The bandwidth requirement comes there when we transmit video through the drone, which we have taken care of. The entire data can be transmitted wireless via bluetooth. USB is only required when the drone needs some upgrade, and hence, the USB 2.0 is ideal according to our requirements.

AIM: AI in drones is a basic technology, why doesn’t Indus Copter have that?

You’re right, AI is a very important part of the drone ecosystem nowadays. We have a model coming up in a couple of months which will have on board AI capability. 

We are also working on two approaches, one is a kind of edge computing at the drone and then we have a dedicated server for other processing. So, it’s kind of two computers working together in sync to get better inside from the data in real time. All this is coming up very quickly and we are also in discussion with an IIT professor who is working in this field. 

AIM: You’re working in Blockchain elections as well, what is stopping you from implementing it?

It is not only the voting but the complete process which needs to be innovated, for example, securing the candidate entry to voting, or the verification of their identity. The blockchain will only ensure that the integrity is maintained and there is no question of no wrong claim or anything like that. The structure eliminates a single point of failure and inherently protects sensitive citizen and government data.

However, the execution part requires a lot of process to be defined which should be agreed upon by the Election Commission. When the administrative authorities agree on the large, then only it can move forward. Similar is the case of decentralised identity. The concept is revolutionary but India has around 1.3 billion people and it depends on administration on how they proceed with it now. 

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Lokesh Choudhary
Lokesh enjoys reading a lot and views himself as an armchair technology journalist. He enjoys sharing tales involving technology. His background in linguistics as a subject of the study did not prevent him from investigating the subjects of AI and Data Science. His email address is lokesh.choudhary@analyticsindiamag.com.

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