3 Idiots drone to defend the nation

A refined version of the helicopter that was shown in the 2009 film has been inducted into the paramilitary forces; is now being used in counter-insurgency operations

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), that wowed viewers in the Bollywood hit 3 Idiots, has been officially inducted into the paramilitary forces. The Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are using the drone, titled 'Netra', in counter-insurgency operations.

There it goes: After watching 3 Idiots, the Defence Research and
Development Organisation tied up with IdeaForge to refine the Netra.

File pic

The autonomous UAV for surveillance and reconnaissance was inducted into the paramilitary forces last month while the army, navy and several state police forces have shown a keen interest in acquiring it, say its makers.
It was developed by Ideaforge Technology Pvt Ltd, a company floated by a group of IIT-Bombay alumni, and the Pune-based Research and Development Establishment  laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

DRDO, after watching the 2009 Aamir Khan starrer 3 Idiots, tied up with IdeaForge to refine the Netra.

It is designed specifically for anti-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations in forested areas. It can be used in hostage situations like the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, border infiltration monitoring, local law enforcement operations, search and rescue operations, disaster management and aerial photography.

"Ten units of Netra have already been taken by the DRDO for research related work in their laboratories like Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Manali while less than a dozen have been provided to paramilitary forces," said Amardeep Singh, vice-president (marketing and operations unmanned systems), IdeaForge.

Netra is light-weight (1.5 kg) and portable, constructed using carbon fibre composites, allowing a user to carry the system along with the control station to field locations. Each unit costs around Rs 15-20 lakh.

The operator simply selects the locations from a graphical interface showing the map of the area and specifies the heights with commands either to hover or traverse through them.

Talking about its usage in paramilitary forces, Singh said Netra can help in catching the images of the mass movement of Maoists hiding in difficult terrains and alert the forces about their presence.

"We have also demonstrated the Netra during a political rally in Chandigarh at the request of police and several other state police forces have shown keen interest in procuring it," said Singh.

The company is now working on the next version of Netra in order to increase the flight time from the present 30-minute per battery charge. It can fly in a radius of 1.5 km at  altitudes of around 200 metres.

Know the Netra

Netra flies using four high-speed propellers that allow vertical take-off and landing and provide the power to soar through the skies. It has a wireless video transmitter and high resolution CCD camera with pan/tilt and zoom that sends images back to the operator. The built-in intelligence in the controller allows for fail-safe operations wherein in case of either a communication failure with base station or low battery, the UAV returns to take-off position automatically.

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