Bangalore: When the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg perpended, innovated and created what could change the world, they not only had the thinking but also the right acumen to sell it and manage the idea as an enterprise in the long run. Both were in their later teen or early 20s when they took the world by storm.
In India, there are thousands of such innovative people who have the potential to create revolutionary models for the future, but for some reason they fade away because of white-knuckled aggression or lack of resources or probably outdated spirit to market themselves in a channelized manner. The mix of innovative thinking and entrepreneurship is mostly missing.
Though, in the last few years, we have seen some excellent examples of innovation from youngsters with zeal; they have not been the casus belli in technological space, creating only mild noise. The latest in the spirited and innovative lot is Team Drone, a group of young aero modelling enthusiasts who are all pursuing engineering studies at Jain University. For them, coming up with an innovative creation which would be recognised globally was not a succedaneum to their academic pursuits but a passion which had the same wavelength across the team.
Team Drone is a group of young aero modelling enthusiasts who are pursuing engineering studies at Jain University.
Showing a mix of pragmatic innovation using high-end technology, these youngsters have also shown the right mix of entrepreneurial acumen by capping big sponsors like Magna Cosma International of Canada, RCbazaar, Enplas Advantage, Drone Aerospace systems, Solus solutions and Mahindra Satyam.
For the past three years, Team Drone has been participating in the Aero Design Competition of the Aero Design Event organised by Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and conducted by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Lockheed Martin.
While winning laurels in the past, Team Drone added another victory for this year by winning two places at the SAE Aero Design 2012 held at Atlanta, USA. This time Team Drone won 2nd place for the highest payload lifted in the Micro Class Category, 3rd Place for the highest payload fraction in the Micro Class Category, and 5th Place overall in the Micro Class Category out of 28 Teams.
Their award winning skookum aero model weighs over 350 grams and has been tested to lift up to four times its weight. The plane is built with the use of Balsa wood, powered using a propeller driven by an electric motor and equipped with state-of-the-art electronics.
“India, not being a major source for world class electronics, balsa wood which is a construction material, gave us a hard time in terms of procurement. We shipped materials from Bahrain, USA, Singapore, China which in turn increased a lot of our work time and cost. Our first prototype model which we flew weighed about 450gms. The fuselage was completely redesigned and cutouts were made on the fuselage which decreased the overall weight and required no reinforcement. Testing of the prototype took several months and suffered numerous crashes. Finally,we could come with our best design. We took 4 similar models which were flight tested and inspected thoroughly by the technical inspectors at the event. The winning aircraft of ours weighing just about 350gms carried a payload of around 1.3kg which is approximately 4 times its own weight,” said Harshavardhana, lead - project management of Team Drone.
As per competition specifications, the aero model fits in a box of 24x18x8 inches (including the radio controller), designed to be assembled within three minutes by two team members and is hand launched.
The team has also participated in other national and international events and conquered the first place in most of the them. The present Team Drone members include B.G.Harshavardhana, Mechanical engineer (lead - project management), Shreyas Vijay Reddy - Mechanical engineer (RC pilot), Shreyas D S - Mechanical engineer (Fabrication and analysis), Skanda Kishore - Electronics engineer (Performance team) and Vivek C S - Mechanical engineer (Design).
“The major support as well as encouragement to participate in the SAE Aero Modelling competition that includes financial, technical, academic and moral support was provided by Jain University, especially R Chenraj Jain, Chairman of JGI Group. The team was chosen and trained by the University’s technical research department - Centre for Emerging Technologies - headed by Dr. Krishna Venkatesh, who has stood beside them as the faculty adviser. M S Santhosh, the Joint Registrar of Jain university has been a guiding and motivating force for the team from the beginning. Besides, Jain University, bulk of the team’s financial requirement is looked after by some of the major corporates through sponsorships,” said Harshavardhana.