Conversation on Indigenous Development of UAVs

Had an interesting conversation with Snehesh Alex Phillip of Print on Indigenous Development of UAVs 

in India and issues involved with them . You can watch the conversation on You Tube @   

DRDO ensured funding for IIT Chennai drone … – YouTube


2 responses to “Conversation on Indigenous Development of UAVs”

  1. Ravi…..the basic issues are funding and airstrips……amount required is not too much….do hope the message reaches the concerned government agencies

  2. Sir – a few thoughts if I may…You've made some very good points:- Your point about Drone Engines being bought by Germans. India had a similar experience with NVGs. Tonbo systems tried to sell Night Vision Devices in India for many, many years. They were successful selling to the US and the world over. India eventually realized what it had was when an Indian (Army) contingent was training with some of the US SoF and they admired the NVGs that the US contingent were using. The US guys said, that it was manufactured in Bangalore.- technology will migrate. Let me give two examples:1. A friend (ex-IIT-D) told me this. He was part of an effort in '01 that came up with a Drone prototype. The team demoed it to someone Sr. the army who looked at it and said it was useless for them since it was too noisy, underpowered and couldn't stay up long enough to be of any use. The team broke up. My friend moved to the US and is currently on his second startup (having cashed out of his first startup there).2. One of the FIRST smart phones was done in India – Bangalore (IISc). Two profs. came up with the Simputer back in '01. Clunky but it worked. But they never got the support they needed and so Picopeta/Simputer is now dead while Apple is worth over $1T.- Your point about funding. Any deep-tech requires long term support and deep funding. Boston Dynamics was setup in '92' and were funded almost continuously since then. It is only now that they have a product. Similar is the case of funding that went into AI and Autonomous vehicles (in the US). Autonomous cars are still not mainstream but they are coming together. And it will be the US (people like Waymo) who will lead.- Here's a very instructive link on how China built a lead on EV Engines/Buses (they own some 97% of the market): If I may add to your point that that we must first go to our IITs, young entrepreneurs. Firstly, I think we have too many eggs in one (our IITs & IISc) basket. We need all our Tier 1 & Tier 2 institutions to step up too. The only way that will happen is we challenge them and help them to come up to speed. Secondly, it is the older entrepreneurs who are really the most innovative (eg. take Boston Dynamics: Mark Reibert was born in '49 and set up BD in '92. Steve Jobs is another example. And many more too).- Your point about funding and markets is spot on.Today some 97% of Indian (product) startups are incorporated outside (usually Delaware US) because:- Investors (who are US based) prefer to fund a US based company.- Customers (esp. Indian) prefer buying from a US company.- What is needed is not money so much as a sand box for ideas to be tested in and funding+support for good ideas.To give you an idea of the state of affairs.DRDO comes up with it's “Dare to Dream” contest – they offer 10L as the first prize. One of the areas I was looking at was: “Detection & Classification of Low Probability of Intercept Radar Signals for Electronic Support Systems”. but 10L means nothing. It doesn't even cover the costs of 2 Engineers for 6 months.To give you an idea how “well thought out” this was: DRDO asked the Cabinet (via the then RM Smt. Sitaraman) for 67CR / 3y to come up with a similar technology.

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