NEW DELHI - Impressed by the talent of a group of engineering undergraduates who won top honours at an international competition for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), US aerospace major Lockheed Martin announced Tuesday it would fund their efforts to create a new generation machine that would have civilian and military applications.
“Here is a group of students who are undergraduates and have worked on a technology they don’t even have classes on,” said Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer, while announcing the company would ink a deal with the Delhi Technology University (DTU), to which the 10 students belong.
“We will provide the broad parameters of the design requirements to be implemented by the students,” he added.
While congratulating the students, Johnson said: “This partnership is one more example of Lockheed Martins long-term commitment to India and the partnerships which we seek to develop and nurture.
The company will provide the student group with Lockheed Martin-generated design space to structure their efforts. The team will be required to make an initial design and then develop a flying prototype - with the drones hopefully going into production by the Commonwealth Games in October 2010.
These will be ideal vehicles for carrying out aerial surveillance at the Games’ venues and also for controlling traffic, P.B. Sharma, the vice chancellor of the DTU, which was previously known as the Delhi College of Engineering (DCE).
Sharma, along with other DTU faculty, had guided the 10 students who won the director’s award for the best team effort for demonstrating a successful flight of a UAV at the 2009 Association of Unmanned Vehicles System International (AUVSI) Student Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) competition.
Explaining the salient features of the new UAV, Rochak Chadha, a third year student of electronics and communications engineering, said the effort would be to increase its endurance to 10 hours from an hour the existing machine can stay aloft.
It will also run on an electric motor against the present petrol engine, we will downsize the autopilot and change the camera system for greater resolution and clarity, Chadha added.
Speaking about what motivated the team to start work on the existing craft, Chadha said: Technology for UAV’s is woefully lacking and the defence forces have to import these from Israel. We wanted to work on the ultimate level of robotics and to create something that was commercially viable.”
The global UAV market is currently estimated at $3.4 billion and has the potential to rise to $7 billion in 10 years, he added.
Asked if the defence ministry has been approached for potential purchase of the UAV, Sharma replied: The defence ministry and ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) are aware of our capabilities. But more than that, there is tremendous potential for the machine in the civilian sector.
US aerospace major Lockheed Martin's India Innovation Growth Programme achieved another milestone Monday with the signing of 22 commercialization deals by the winners of this unique nation-wide initiative.
The deals, signed at the Hyderabad Technology Expo included six inked with international companies, placing the winners on a global platform.
Many winners of the programme, being run in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and those signing the commercialization deals had technologies that dealt with medical and environmental initiatives.
These included a chemical catalyst based process that converts hydrocarbon based material into fuels; technology to convert algae into diesel fuel; nano polymer coating on coronary stents; heart sound analyzer; and technology to create more efficient and reliable blades for generating wind power.
Inaugurating the Technology Expo, where programme winners of the earlier years had showcased their innovative technologies, Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, Andhra Pradesh's minister of major industries, commerce and export promotion and food processing, said: 'India has a number of innovative technologies and ideas but there is lack of structure to take minds to the market.
'Today, mind-to-market initiatives such as the India Innovation Growth Programme are imperative to ensure a win-win situation for both-the innovators and the industry. We have to transform India into a knowledge society with innovation as the thrust area,' Narayana added.
Speaking on the occasion, Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin's senior vice president and chief technology officer, said: 'This programme, now in its third year, continues to mature and stand out for its uniqueness in helping rising entrepreneurs identify markets and partnerships for their innovation and develop business strategies.
'The collaboration and partnerships we have established with the Indian government's Department of Science and Technology, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum and the IC2 Institute, have led to national acceptance for the programme, making it eagerly anticipated by India's growing numbers of inventors and innovators.
'We continue to be impressed with the tremendous spirit for invention and innovation that exists here and are committed to a long-term relationship with India,' Johnson added.
According to H.K. Mittal, advisor and head of the DST's National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), 'innovation has emerged as an important common instrument in the hands of entrepreneurs, corporate sector and the policy makers that is capable of positively affecting the lives of humanity.
'While it is useful when applied by each of these sectors, individually but when used in synergistic manner and in partnership it leverages the strengths of each partner significantly. The public private partnership established for the India Innovation Growth Programme is a successful example of building on the strengths of each partner,' Mittal added.
Arabinda Mitra, executive director of the Indo-US S&T Forum, said: 'The India Innovation Growth Programme is an example of seamless public-private partnership model designed to foster an ecosystem that encourages innovation and creativity in India by nurturing and promoting promising early-stage technologies to find markets in India, US and around the world.'
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