They resemble toy planes, measuring not more than 450mm in length. Yet, they’re capable of carrying out surveillance and stealth operations. These Micro Air Vehicles were on display at the Indian Technology Congress at the Nimhans Convention Centre recently. These MICAVs are designed and built under a joint venture by Defence Research and Development Organization and Department of Science and Technology called the National Programme on Micro Vehicles (NP-MICAV). The work has been done by a consortium of technical and research institutes along with private industries.
The MICAVSs are capable of flying on autonomous control and transmit pictures as they are equipped with micro-cameras and GPS. The programme is to develop indigenous MICAVs that can fly as low as 100 metres and provide accurate details. They’re used in defence, search and rescue, disaster management, terrain mapping, among others. The three displayed MICAVs were named Black Kite, Golden Hawk and Pushpak, with sizes varying from 300mm to 450mm. “They are capable of conducting 20-40 minute surveillance missions and have a range of over 2km,” said S Maheswaran, project engineer, National Aerospace Laboratories.
“We’ve been successful in developing these MICAVs and so far there have been no crashes in our tests,” said Bharath Varma, assistant project manager, NDRFC, one of the agencies involved in the programme. “Now we’re working on upgrading these with further technology for applications like target following, video processing and grid referencing” added Maheswaran.
According to Varma, these MICAVs were used successfully for crowd monitoring by police in Chandigarh. Y. Dilip is the programme director of NP-MICAV. Bangalore-based institutes working on the project include NAL, Indian Institute of Science, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and MS Ramaiah School of Advanced Research.