IIT Madras Develops New AI & Computer Vision-Powered Drones For Disaster Management

iit madras eye in the sky

iit madras eye in the sky

Indian Institute of Technology Madras students have developed an ‘Eye in the Sky’ Disaster Management and Humanitarian Aid Services. A team from Centre For Innovation (CFI), IIT Madras, is building drones enabled with AI and Computer Vision to develop an end-to-end solution for identifying accurate and critical information on people trapped in disaster-hit areas and communicate them to the relief task force.

‘Eye in the Sky’ is unique because its analytical modules are based on the latest available technology with the team creating their own databases for some of the modules. Occluded people detection and Swarm Intelligence Modules are entirely state-of-the-art and work is based on the experience of past data on disaster management.

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The ‘Eye in the Sky’ Team won the finals of Indian Innovation Growth Programme (IIGP 2.0) University Challenge held at IIT Bombay recently. They were among ‘Top 18 Innovative Startups’ from all over the nation and will receive Rs. 10 lakh-worth equity-less funding. The team has also received ‘Microsoft AI For Earth’ Grant given to only 390 projects globally.

The India Innovation Growth Programme (IIGP) 2.0 is a unique tripartite initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt of India, American global defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corporation and Tata Trusts. A total of 843 teams from various Universities and Startups participated of which 40 were shortlisted for the ‘DownSelect’ event at IIT Bombay.


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Highlighting the technical innovation behind this project, Lt Gen (retd) PR Shankar, Faculty Advisor of the Team, and Professor of Practice, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Madras, said in a statement, “The eye in the sky is an innovation based on futuristic disruptive technologies. It will be a powerful tool for saving lives and providing succour during disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations.”

He added, “With further marginal development it can be extensively used in surveillance operations. The innovation is platform agnostic and has immense value. It is not without reason that Microsoft and Lockheed Martin have recognised this effort. The innovation team is working with NDMA and Armed Forces to develop and deploy indigenous technologies for totally Indian solutions to Indian problems. I sincerely wish this team all success.”

Air Force and Army readily respond to the needs of the affected community in all possible ways. ‘Eye in the Sky’ can also help them to conduct an efficient aerial survey, to help provide food and water supplies and other medical and safety aids to marooned and trapped populations. It can also help them to rebuild a collapsed communication channel and can provide navigation support.

The Team plans to collaborate with hardware companies that can provide scalable drone technology to conduct the required spot surveillance of disaster-struck areas. Large technology corporations that work with organizations like United Nations that conduct disaster relief operations also have mutual gains from collaboration besides NGOs that specialize in disaster relief operations are also potential collaborators.

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