Startup@IITD: Industry grade Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Technology start-up (BotLab Dynamics) was incubated at the Technology Business Incubation Unit (TBIU), Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer(FITT), IIT Delhi. The team consists of graduates from IIT Delhi and works in the area of industrial automation. While focusing on industry grade Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)having sensing and imaging capabilities for various kind of application across industries, the startup is working on three features --stability, endurance and networking of multiple UAVs. The team is developing UAVs for temperature profiling of the stacks, will get rid of manual monitoring and also reduce downtime of the plants. In an interview with the CEO Tanmay Bunkar talks about the startup, the challenges and the roadmap ahead.

When did you decide on the startup?


In 2010 during our first year of graduation studies it all started as a project to make a UAV which can work as a scout for surveillance. After numerous crashes the first successful flight was conducted in early 2012 but the model was very limited in its capabilities. By 2014 the system was stable and was presented at IIT Delhi's Annual Open House which brought a lot of attention. In 2015 several government agencies got interested in our system. After graduation it was clear that there is a requirement for such systems and BotLab Dynamics was finally established in July 2016.


Why this specific startup?


UAVs are going to be a part of our daily life soon, as workhorses reducing efforts and risk for humans. But before they do so they have to be safe, rugged and reliable. UAVs have limited flight time and payload but most of the times they work as a single standalone unit which limits their potential as the IOT devices . Botlab is working on addressing these problems.


What does your startup deal with?


BotLab is working on High Endurance and Heavy Lift Drones for use in industrial settings. Our systems can cope with high temperature and electromagnetic disturbances typical in industry while generating a thermal profile in real time. When networked together they can gather more coherent data faster than conventional methods which has applications across fields like Geological Mapping to collecting Meteorological Data. We are working on a stabilization system which can be mounted on Ground and Underwater Robots as well.


How were you able to address the initial roadblocks?


UAVs present a potential hazard when used for malicious purposes and to ensure public safety the governing authorities had banned any private operation of such systems. Government Agencies are exempted so we partnered with agencies like the Indian Agriculture Research Institute(IARI) to develop and flight test our system. The infrastructure needed to support hardware based startup in our country is in an early stage, is quite expensive to get components made outside and time consuming. Every prototype costs a considerable sum of money.


What are your future plans?


BotLab aspires to create a system that enables the operation of UAVs and other Robots to their fullest potential not as individual units but as a part of a larger integrated network for Civil and Defense applications.