Staff Correspondent

Prowess of Micro Air Vehicles displayed

Paper plane flying contest held for students

NAL has developed ‘Black Kite’

Manipal: The three-day “Aerofest 2009” organised by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) here on Saturday concluded with a flight demonstration by Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) and a paper plane flying contest for students.

The flight demo by two MAV “Black Kites” and “Golden Hawks” at the MIT Cricket Grounds, was a delight to watch. The MAV is an autonomous flying vehicle capable of carrying a payload. The maximum linear dimension of this machine is 150 to 300 mm and its weight can vary. The weight of the Black Kite was 300 grams, while that of the Golden Hawk was 400 grams. They can fly at a maximum height of 100 metres above ground level.

Payload attached

According to scientist at NAL Giri Raj C.V., the MAVs can carry various special sensors as payload to support civil and military missions such as traffic monitoring, weather observation, disaster management, anti-terrorist operations and enemy surveillance. The MAVs are equipped with a miniaturised video camera which can locate nearby enemy troop positions too. The NAL has developed Black Kite, a 300 mm span-fixed-wing autonomous MAV. The first version of this indigenous MAV has been successfully flight-tested in two modes: radio-controlled, and autonomous.

The autopilot system used in the Black Kite has been developed indigenously and is state-of-the-art. Mr. Giri Raj said that even if the MAVs lost link with the Ground Control Station, they were programmed to return home. A MAV with autopilot could control itself. The images taken by the cameras of the MAVs could be downloaded directly onto a computer, he added.

Associate Director of the institute A.M. Chincholkar was present.