“Three Corona Combat Products, Several POCs But Paucity of Funds to Scale”

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  • Indian Robotics Solution has developed three products to help authorities combat Coronavirus
  • The startup has given POCs to several police agencies and state governments
  • It was earlier developing drones for the Indian Army and various other government agencies
Police using Corona Combat Helmet Developed by an Electronics Startup India Robotics Solutions

Sagar Gupta Naugriya & Prashant Pillai have been busy giving demos of their corona combat drones and headgear to state authorities and police departments since the mid of April 2020. Despite successful POCs, they have been facing challenges as getting these solutions developed on a commercial scale requires finances.

The founders of Indian Robotics Solutions, in an exclusive conversation with EFY Group, shed light on how they developed the products and the challenges they are facing despite getting positive feedback from state governments and police agencies.

“We want to scale up and help the authorities as much as possible. The challenge is everytime we are asked questions around how many products (in numbers) can we provide, we are left with no answers because of paucity of funds,” stated Prashant.

Here are some more interesting excerpts from the conversation

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Q. Can you give us a brief of the three products that you developed for combating Corona?

A. The first product which we had come up in the last week of March was a sanitization drone. The name was Corona Combat Drone-CCD. We had devised this drone to sanitize remote locations where the normal municipal tanker cannot go to sanitize.

The second one was a thermal Corona Combat Drone -TCCD. It’s again an aerial vehicle, which is a Penta-utility drone. It is India’s first transformable drone in which we have put five different things. One is a thermal camera, which we had put to get the thermal imaging or the temperature of an individual living in a red zone area. It has a Bluetooth loudspeaker, so that the directions can be given to the individuals who come to their balconies. It also has a night utility camera so that the drone can be used at night. It has an inbuilt five-litre sanitization tank which can be used to sanitize the area if we find that there is a person who has an elevated body temperature. And fifth and foremost is that it has a medicine box in which we can deliver medicines or if the health officials have to go to every floor of a building, it can also deliver medicines as well as portable Corona testing kits.

The third one is called a thermal Corona combat headgear- TCCH. It is a helmet that has an attached thermal camera on top of it. It has a screen in which we put our normal phone and it can take the temperature on a land-to-land basis. We are working on increasing its efficiency as well as its aesthetics as it is a prototype at the moment.

We wanted to empower the first line of defense that is the police personnel as well as the health authorities to go on foot to different public places such as hospitals or the traffic lights as well as police stations. So, these are the three products which we have designed till now.

Q. Where were the POCs done?

A. When the whole sanitization drive started in partnership with North Delhi Municipal Corporation, under the guidance of Ms Ira Singhal- DC Keshavpuram & Ms Varsha Joshi- Commissioner NDMC, we came up with the Corona Combat drone. So, we gave a proof of concept there. NDMC’s partnership with us was only for sanitization.

For thermal Corona Combat Drone, we gave a demo in Majnu Ka Tila. Secondly, we gave a proof of concept at the Mini Secretariat, Gurugram. The initial response was appreciative and the authorities wanted to deploy it in the market areas with heavy footfall

They wanted a solution that can work on a land to land level. We had made this thermal CCD only for residential buildings and slum areas, which are marked as red zones.

Corona Combat Drones and Headgear by India Robotics Solution

We were able to get the temperature variable but they wanted the drone to operate amongst the crowd. So at that time, we realized that we need to do something for the land-to-land one.

For the third device, we gave a proof of concept to the Delhi government. We had also given a proof of concept of the sanitization drone as well as the thermal Corona Combat Drone to the noida Authority.

We worked with the NDMC for around 14 days and covered roughly a remote area of around 165 kilometers which comprised of 37 different locations. A lot of the people who live in these locations are slum dwellers. The highlight was the Narela Quarantine Camp. That is the place where all the individuals from Markaz-Nizamuddin were kept in quarantine. And having said that, in total, the areas that we have covered comprise around 1.7 to 1.8 million people.

Q. Any deployment orders from agencies where you gave POCs?

A. The Delhi government wanted a huge number of TCCD as the number of red zones in Delhi was increasing. Regarding the sanitization drive, we worked for three days with Mr Ram Nivas Goel- Speaker of Delhi Assembly.

The latest update regarding the helmet is that we have done a proof a concept in partnership with Delhi Police . The POC was conducted in one of their biggest traffic light areas in which around 200 people came in different cars and everyone’s temperature was taken out of which some of them did have an elevated body temperature. They were then asked to come out and go for their second round of screening. Delhi police has asked us to manufacture large quantity of TCCH too.

Q. If you were to supply all the orders that people showed interest in, then how much money would it require for you?

A. According to the preliminary rolling sales plan (RSP) we would require roughly 14-15 crores to make the final product of TCCD and TCCH as well as to manufacture the required quantity as asked by various governments and authorities.

Regarding the helmets, talks are going on with the Delhi police. We have also got calls from different states. Concerning the thermal Corona Combat Drone, we have had interest from four authorities of different states. But due to the lack of enough drones, finances and manpower, we are unable to provide it to everyone.

Q. If funds were made available to you, how soon can you provide these drones and how many drones can you put up in a day or a week?

A. If we have the funds available, we also need raw materials for that. If we have everything in front of us, we have the capability of making three drones per day.

Q. Can these drones be completely built with everything sourced in India or would you be needing anything from outside India as well?

A. Some parts such as thermal cameras and propulsion system don’t have a manufacturer in India. In that case, we need to import from outside. These devices come through a legal process that takes time and they also cost a lot.

The thermal camera that we use in our drone costs Rs 3 to 10 lakh based on requirement . That’s why we cannot procure too much. We can use variants of remaining things such as flight controllers and remote control. With the help of open-source, we can develop our flight controller. We have also developed the hardware and software of flight controllers. So minus two parts, just the propulsion system and the thermal cameras, everything else can be sourced from India.

Q. Have you reached out to any VCs for funding?

A. We have reached out to a couple of people. A lot of integrators between entrepreneurs and VCs have approached us. We are looking for strategic investors who see potential on a long term basis. We hope that someone appreciates our ideas and efforts and decides to work with us.

Sagar Gupta Naugriya & Prashant Pillai, Founders, India Robotics Solution

Q. What’s in it for the investor?

A. We are not a company in drones only. We are also providing the Indian army with all-terrain vehicles, GPS trackers, utility bases UAV’s, and various robotic solutions. We also provide survey, surveillance, rescue & GIS drone mapping services to the Solar sector, power sector and Indian Railways etc.

We are serving different departments of the corporate sector. A well known power grid company has procured three drones from us and used for stringing of transmission lines between different towers. So, we are a company who is providing a solution based on the requirements. We can develop any type of robotic solution.

Q. How much time did you take to develop these three products against Corona and how much did you invest from your pocket in these?

A. We used to make agricultural drones previously. And since we are doing the same thing with the farmer’s field, we made some software changes to that drone and then implemented it for sanitizing purposes. And since we are already providing thermal cameras to the army for surveillance purposes, we included that in the drone as well. If the government wants to operate it at night, then we can also add night vision cameras to it.

We have also put a speaker for informing people. The drone can also deliver the Covid-19 testing kit. It took us roughly four days to build the thermal Corona Combat drone and took us around 3 days for the thermal corona combat headgear.

Then, it took one week to approach the authorities. Ira Singhal-DC Keshavpuram- NDMC gave us an opportunity to sanitise in a slum at Keshavpuram as a pilot programme. In all, we have invested around Rs 35 lakhs in developing 4 CCD’s, 2 TCCD’s and 1 TCCH.

Reported by – Mukul Yudhveer Singh

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