Indian Navy signs Rs 13 crore contract to procure Robotics Lifebuoys. Indian Navy signs Rs 13 crore contract to procure country’s first indigenously developed Robotics Lifebuoys
a big boost to the ‘Self Reliant India’ campaign, Indian Navy signed a Rs 13 crore contract to procure the country’s first indigenously developed Robotics Lifebuoys.The contract was bagged by a startup [ Saif Automation ] is Visakhapatnam based startup. Robot lifebuoys are autonomous & are fitted out with sensors & electronic equipment that allow them to locate a stranded person in the water & head out to them automatically.
In India, it has been developed under the Innovations For Defence Excellence (iDEX) challenge “Unmanned Surface Vehicles”.
Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar appreciated the efforts of iDEX. He said, “IDEX is revolutionising Defence innovation – creating new tech solutions in a fraction of cost & fraction of time.” He termed development of indigenously developed Robotic LifebuoysAas “the great success story of Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India)”
Saif Seas promoter Aliasagar Calcuttawala said on social media after winning the challenge, “iDEX has provided us with a launchpad to launch into the higher orbit of success.”
He said, “The whole thought process of IDEX & the programme is not just to develop prototypes suitable for use in the Indian Defence Industry, but to develop defence innovation partners & defence industry with the help of startups, aiming towards more of Make in India.”
August 19, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched Defence India Startup Challenge 5 under iDEX leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India’s defence technologies, equipment design & manufacturing capabilities.
iDEX provides a platform for different stakeholders in the defence & aerospace sectors, essentially acting as an umbrella organisation to oversee technology development & potential collaborations in the specific field, the defence ministry had stated.
The areas where challenges were thrown such as Situational awareness, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Aircraft-trainer, Non-lethal devices, 5G network, Under-water domain awareness, Drone SWARMS & Data Capturing.
The problem statements, designed to ensure military advantage in the foreseeable future, are the highest in any edition, so far.
About Saif Automation
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Vizag-based Saif Automation’s water drone will help prevent people from drowning. Saif Automation has developed an unmanned remote-controlled water drone that has uses in both defence & civilian sectors.
You can call it a lifeguard startup. Vizag-based Saif Automation, currently incubated in Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society, has developed a prototype of a drone that can be deployed in an emergency situation arising at sea or in water bodies. The company aims to help in reducing incidents of drowning at least in places where the drone is deployed.
The beginning of Saif Automation
In 2017, 40-year-old Aliasgar Calcuttawala, after completing his post-graduation in Mechatronics at University of Siegen of Germany, started working with his father & brother in their trading business that caters to the marine industry in Kolkata.
Ahmed S. Abdeally, Taher Ahmed & Aliasgar with AP Minister for Information Technology, Panchayati Raj & Rural Development, Nara Lokesh.
“We opened a branch in Visakhapatnam in 2008 under the name of EAC Marine Pvt Ltd. We started working with defence agencies like the Indian Coast Guard & the Indian Navy. We also started ship repair & fabrication of different civilian vessels,” says Aliasgar.
As the coastline of Visakhapatnam is very rough, he would come across drowning reports in newspapers every day. “We had the requisite experience in the marine industry, and came up with the idea of rescuing people in distress,” he says.
Aliasgar, along with his father Ahmed S Abdeally and his brother Taher Ahmed co-founded Saif Automation & came up with the idea of the ‘Sea Water Drone’. Aliasgar says, “My father started working in Engineering Appliances Corporation in 1961 in Calcutta to cater to marine & steel plants industry. The company supplies tools, hardware, hydraulics items & pneumatic items to clients. Our core strength was in the marine industry, with clients like the Shipping Corporation of India, Great Eastern Shipping, Mercator Lines, Essar Shipping & ONGC. We have been visiting these ships since our childhood days to understand the issues better.”
While Taher has been working with his father since day one, Aliasgar initially worked for Bharat Electronics Limited in 2001-2004 in its telecom & broadcast, strategic business unit (SBU). He went to Germany for his post-graduation & returned to India in 2007. Taher has been taking care of marketing for the startup & Aliasgar is a robotics expert.
The startup was incorporated early in 2018. Aliasgar says it was his father, who is now 90, motivated him to start something of this own. He says, “We have already applied for patents. The National Research Development Corporation is sponsoring our patent application.” NRDC is an enterprise of the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology.
Challenges & process
“In September 2017, we decided to design the water drone. There were plenty of engineering challenges like power calculation, shape & volume calculations, weight & buoyancy parameters, aerodynamic, pressure testing & other complex engineering calculations. We recruited interns from IITs. That partly solved the problem. Then there were issues like crafts should be easily serviceable. We have a lot of friends in the ship repairing industry & they helped us to resolve many issues,” says Aliasgar.
The prototype was completed in May 2018. The drone has a dedicated radio communication from its remote to the craft. “The drone is not dependent on the internet or any tower signal. This is particularly helpful because, in the event of a cyclone or earthquake, there will be network issues. We worked on free radio frequency. The drone once thrown on a water surface can go at a speed of 7 knots (i.e. 14 metres per second). No human can match this speed,” he adds.
Co-founder, Saif Automation, Aliasgar Calcuttawala (Right). If a crew member sees a person drowning, they can immediately throw the drone out into the sea. With the handheld remote, they can control & manoeuvre the drone until it reaches & picks the drowning person & comes back to the ship/boat.
The startup has designed more than 12 models of the drone for different purposes – tourism & entertainment, saving lives, surveillance, delivering medicines in flood-affected areas, etc.
The company is bootstrapped & currently has a team of six for designing the drone. While the design, electronics & testing are being done by the startup, it has outsourced the hull manufacturing to third parties.
Some features of the drone Unmanned remote controlled
1] String 3km communication range for remotes, extendable up to 10 km
2] Two hours to get fully charged
3] Weighs around 12 kg
4] A long-lasting battery with 45 minutes on moderate load & eight hours of GPS tracking. Can be fitted with HD camera, robotic probes or weaponry.
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