1000 Drones showed India’s S&T strength at ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony

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An Indian startup named “Botlabs”, funded by the Technology Development Board (TDB) under Union Ministry of Science & Technology and led by IIT Delhi alumni flew 1,000 Drones on the “Beating Retreat” ceremony yesterday evening, as a part of the Light Show marked the conclusion of the nearly week-long programs related to Republic Day.

With this, India has become the fourth country, after China, Russia, and the UK, to carry out such a large-scale show with 1,000 drones. These drones had shown many arts through their lights while flying 75th Amrut Mahotsav & Mahatma Gandhi light show was one of them.

This was announced by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; Minister of State PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh.

Earlier on Friday, at a demonstration of the Drone presentation, the Minister interacted with the “Botlabs” Start-up team members including Tanmay Bunkar, Sarita Ahlawat, Sujit Rana, Mohit Sharma, Harshit Batra, and Kunal Meena.

Dr Jitendra Singh said that the start-up was given an initial seed fund of Rs One crore for R&D by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and subsequently Rs Rs 2.5 crore for scale-up and commercialization by Technology Development Board to develop the first of its kind technological project in India.

The Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting more of such innovative and sustainable start-ups to fulfill Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a global hub of start-up ecosystem.

Dr Sarita Ahlawat, Managing Director of Boatlab Dynamics said that the project could become successful only due to full financial support provided by the Ministry of Science and Technology, as the private sector was reluctant to hand-hold it. She thanked the Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh for all the support and encouragement he gave and appreciated the engineers associated with the project for declining lucrative offers from MNCs and owning up to the idea. 

Dr Jitendra Singh expressed happiness that Boatlab Dynamics, incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology was able to develop the fleet of 1000 swarm drones in six months and that the project was developed indigenously within the country, comprising the development of all the necessary components, including both hardware and software such as the flight controller (the brain of the drone); precision GPS; motor controller; and Ground Control Station (GCS) algorithms.

Dr Jitendra Singh noted that Botlabs in association with the Ministry of Defence had conceptualized the novel ‘DRONE SHOW’ to commemorate the 75th year of Independence. The drone show will be for 10 minutes and will showcase government achievements through many creative formations in the dark sky.

He said that the success of this project is a perfect example of inter-Ministerial coordination wherein everyone from senior officials to the last executing official of MoD, DST, TDB, and IIT Delhi worked together and supported in demonstrating the accomplishment of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Mission.

The Minister said the Technology Development Board has been instrumental in building conducive ecosystems by bringing in new opportunities and horizons for various ecosystems in India. With its unique mandate, TDB provides financial assistance to Indian industrial companies and other agencies attempting the development and commercial application of indigenous technologies or adapting imported technologies to wider domestic uses. The other aspect which makes TDB funding different from other financial bodies is that it also funds companies that involve high-risk technologies.

Mr. Rajesh Kumar Pathak, Secretary, TDB said, “Due to paucity of time, the project came as a challenge to TDB but considering the innovation involved and contribution it would make to nation-building, TDB took this up. We are glad that we could provide the assistance on time. I would also like to thank Prof.Ashutosh Sharma (former Chairperson, TDB and former Secretary, DST) for his timely support for the project and my predecessor Dr.Neeraj Sharma for understanding the project’s national importance.”

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