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Guwahati/IBNS: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati’s Aeromodelling Club is encouraging students to harness creativity, technology and innovation in aeromodelling.
With an aim to develop smart drones with an easy interface for common people to interact with drones, the club has developed different types of drones including ‘Warehouse Drone’ for warehouse management, ‘Reaper Drones’ for military and law enforcement, ‘Ornithopter’ based on the design of birds which can be used for surveillance in tight spaces, for wildlife photography, and ‘RAVEN,’ an indigenously developed VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) capable fixed-winged aircraft
Apart from these projects, students have also developed a drone capable of firing at targets with high precision.
The firing mechanism is designed in such a way that it returns to its previous position waiting for the pilot's command for the next firing.
Speaking about Innovations underway at this club, Prof. Chivukula Vasudeva Sastri, Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati, said, "I have watched the students of the Aeromodelling club work very closely, and the amount of passion and effort they put into developing aerial robots is just amazing. Their consistent top performances in both internal and external competitions speak for themselves."
Set up as an informal group in 2013 by students interested in aerodynamics and registered as an official club of IIT Guwahati in 2015, the Aeromodelling Club has been associated with multiple events both within and outside the campus.
Over the years, the club has been conducting training workshops in various fields like aircraft design, computer vision, and RC aircraft hardware. Off late, they have even managed to secure the seed fund from TIC IIT Guwahati to develop ‘Reaper’ for commercialization. Sharing his experience on working on drones, Rishikesh Das, 3rd year, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, said, "I have always been fascinated by RC planes. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to explore aircraft design and understand the aerodynamics of planes. The number of potential drones has excited me even more. Working on projects at the Aeromodelling club is a wonderful feeling, to be able to contribute to society and find answers to existing problems."
Hemant Pandey, 3rd year, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, said, “It is the process that I enjoy in making drones and planes. To ideate, innovate, and come up with feasible solutions to complex problems fuels my passion. Every competition we participated in and every project we have worked here at the Aeromodelling club has inspired us to do more. We work together as a team and aim to develop smart drones."
Warehouse Drone: In a real-world scenario, warehouses are one of the most difficult places to maintain with various repetitive tasks such as inventory management or moving objects to different places. Any failure in doing these tasks on time can cause heavy financial losses. To avoid human inefficiency, IIT Guwahati innovators including Sai Koushik, Madhur Vadlamudi, Vatan Narang, Siddharth Gupta, Akshai M, Joshith Gubbala and Shaik Ahmad Ashraf Ali have developed a drone to eliminate such labor-intensive duties that involve time consuming repetitive physical work.
The ‘Warehouse Drone’ is a management system utilizing computer vision to integrate a line following algorithm with the detection of ArUco markers. An ‘ArUco Marker’ is a fiducial marker, a binary matrix composed of a black border around it, and it is a synthetic marker used to locate it in an image or video instantly. The software uses ArUco markers with pre-assigned ids placed at positions of every object, and a system of lines laid all across the warehouse connecting everything. The drone, with the implemented software, after taking input from the user, follows a particular line to get to a shelf and reaches out to the desired destination.
With a little bit of tweaking in the program, for future scope, the utility of the drone can be modified from understanding the flow of water in agricultural lands to delivery of goods within a city by using line following algorithms along roads, it can also be used for faster identification of items in the inventory of industries.
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