SIST team develops a Defence and Rescue Oriented Navigation Expert equipment.

When it comes to their semester exam results, these five say they check for their names from the bottom up on rank list. But they decided to give it their all when it was time to do their final-year project at the Sarabhai Institute of Science and Technology (SIST), Vellanad. For over a year, the five friends devoted all their time, energy, and a considerable amount of their savings on translating a crude diagram into a veritable ‘DRONE’ mechanism.

The name DRONE stands for Defence and Rescue Oriented Navigation Expert, and is a commonly used term for vehicles controlled by remote controls via radio signals. The Union Ministry of Defence was in the process of importing unmanned ground vehicles around the same time that this group, from the Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering Department, were hunting for ideas for their project.

“We wondered why such expensive deals had to be forged and why DRONE equipment could not be sourced indigenously,” says Renith K. Rajan, one of the team members. The others are Vignesh, Vishnu Dutt, Nidam Nasimudeen, and Sreejith J.

Initially, they knocked on many doors in the hope of getting some financial support. But when no help came, they decided to realise their dream on their own. Their basic principle was to dismiss the idea that sophisticated technology was required to create an unmanned device with so many benefits, be it in the military field, space science, or rescue operations.

They claim that they can control the vehicle within a range of 200 m. SIST director K.R. Kaimal, who was a scientist at the ISRO, has promised to help them develop it further.

They are optimistic that their hard work will pay dividends.