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Eyes in the sky: Drones for national security

Eyes in the sky: Drones for national security

Categorised as one of the 'essential eight' emerging technologies with huge potential by PwC, 'Eye in the Sky: What a drone revolution can do for India' was the topic of discussion at the 19th Edition of India Today Conclave

Ankit Mehra, co-founder & CEO of ideaForge Technology Pvt (Photo: Chandradeep Kumar) Ankit Mehra, co-founder & CEO of ideaForge Technology Pvt (Photo: Chandradeep Kumar)

From drones being deployed high in the sky for surveillance in sensitive and important land areas in Ladakh to futuristic cellphone towers in remote areas mounted on these flying machines, India is at the cusp of a drone revolution.

Categorised as one of the 'essential eight' emerging technologies with huge potential by PwC, 'Eye in the Sky: What a drone revolution can do for India' was the topic of discussion at the 19th Edition of India Today Conclave.

On the backdrop of the Galwan tragedy that happened last year, Ankit Mehra, co-founder & CEO of ideaForge Technology Pvt. Ltd. started the conversation stating the biggest reasons for not being able to predict such instances were the extreme, harsh environments with no availability of intelligence unless there is technology to aid and support.   

There are a certain set of systems that can keep an eye on those areas but, typically, these larger systems are limited in number. And at the same time it is also difficult to create the infrastructure required to deploy such systems. The Indian Army, which has been looking at drone technology for a long time now has decided to induct systems, which are more in numbers, distributed surveillance, to look at the precious areas of our country.  

Therefore, they decided to go for purchasing systems that can help us keep that eye at that altitude in those harsh environmental conditions.  

"Today, the systems that we are delivering to them, are helping them keep those eyes on those areas to give them unprecedented views of what they never saw was even existing on the other side or had already been done to. And finally be able to get more familiar with the terrain that while we are intimate with, but we only see the ground view of it, not the god's view," said Ankit Mehra.

While on one hand drones are facilitating the military with its operations, the technology is also being misused that poses a threat to national security. Sameer Joshi, CEO & Director, NewSpace Research & Technologies Pvt Ltd. said, "Countering drones is a humongous task. And let's be very honest about it, no nation in this world has that capability to counter drones 24x7, coming from any direction, at any place. To address this, the first thing needed is to control the inflow and outflow of drones, the major components used, and have policies in place."   

But as anybody who is going to use a drone in a way that is harmful for the nation is not going to be part of the system and unit requires certain layers of detection and engagement. According to Joshi, these layers are called the 'counter-drone systems', which contains detection layer such as a radar, optical sensor, infrared sensor or radio sounding imaging. Joshi explained that these systems have look in the right direction to pick up a target which is coming. And once detected, we should have the response (kinetic or non-kinetic) to take it down.

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