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Monday, February 21, 2011

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] by Aurora Integrated Systems [Indian Startup]

Was indulging myself in the sublime joy of brochure-reading when I came across one belonging to an Indian Engineering startup that had developed & was marketing its own fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] - definitely piqued my interest.
Auro Integrated Systems [AIS], Bengaluru [Bangalore], India
The company, Aurora Integrated System [AIS], is a Bengaluru [Bangalore] - based startup formed by a group of IIT graduates. They currently offer 3 UAVs

  • Altius Mk II
  • Urban View
  • Sky Dot
They have also developed an Aerostat, Sky View, available in 3 variants & whose payload can be changed depending upon the requirement.
  • SkyView 50
  • SkyView 100 HD
  • SkyView 200

  • Altius Mk II Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Altius Mk 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] by Aurora Integrated Systems [Bangalore, India]
It is a Medium Altitude, Medium Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, capable of performing a pre-programmed mission independent of human intervention & also capable of uplinking with a satellite to transmit data, extending its range up to 300 km, doubling the 150 km Line Of Sight range limit is normally operates under.

  • Urban View Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Urban View Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] by Aurora Integrated Systems, Bangalore, India
A single-operator Mini UAV, meant for tactical reconnaissance objectives with a range of up to 25 km & endurance of 1 hour. A variant for operating the UAVs out of ships also exists.
A video of the Urban View UAV in operation
Urban View Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] by Aurora Integrated Systems [AIS], Bangalore, India

  •  Sky Dot Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Sky Dot Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] by Aurora Integrated Systems [AIS], Bangalore, India
A Micro UAV, with a range of up to 5 km & endurance of around 40 minutes, carrying a CCD camera that can detect a vehicle from a distance of 250 meters.
Features & Specifications of the Sky Dot UAV
  • SkyView Aerostat
Aerostat available in different sizes, whose tethered payload can be changed according to mission requirement. They also claim to be able to provide customized payload depending on user-requirement.
Specifications, features & information
The company is being backed by the Tata-group of industries, which itself has a presence in defence production & is interested in being involved in it in a far bigger way, having signed contracts to collaborate & manufacture weapon systems, with foreign arms manufacturer.
In hindsight, while going through the December 2010 edition of Technology Focus whose subject was the various current & future UAV projects, institutions under the Defence Research & Development Organisation [DRDO] were undertaking, was struck by the re-invention of wheel the govt-run R&D institutes are engaged in. It could be argued that projects undertaken by DRDO in the past decade and earlier were justified due to lack of capabilities of Indian industries in the private domain to take up such projects. However, to continue to go it alone, now that Engineering start-up companies have shown interest & initiative, is unacceptable to say the least.
Co-opting the private companies into these DRDO-run projects, giving them the required guidance & providing them with the benefits of their own experience & infrastructure facilities would go a long way in developing competence & capabilities of India's private sector defence industries & also optimize resource allocation & prevent duplication of efforts.
This is, undoubtedly, easier said than done, owing to the uncontested monopoly enjoyed by DRDO in indigenous weapons development till now. Giving it all up & asking them to collaborate with private companies & guide them in projects that had been their sole preserve would be akin to asking a person being fired from the company to mentor & train the replacement to do the job he had been doing for many years.
However, the scenario that existed at that time in India which prompted the government to setup the DRDO no longer exist today, to a great extent - technology currently available in the hands of the private sector makes them far more capable to taking up many of these projects. It is, therefore, imperative that DRDO itself undergo a gradual, albeit deliberate process of metamorphosis from being a technology developer to a technology enabler, a la, DARPA - a chief mentor, of sorts, to the fledgling indigenous private industries interested in catering to India's defence requirement.
Only those projects of national importance, of a strategic nature, like missile development, for example, may still be pursued by DRDO-run labs. Eventually, with capability build-up occurring in the private sector, even these projects could be allotted to them - an irrefutable symbol of the evolved & advanced nature of a country's industrial setup in private hands.
A small, yet nicely worded article that articulates the need for DRDO to undergo reforms & take on a role being played by DARPA in USA - DRDO and DARPA.