Indian-run New Zealand firm designs UAV for cloud seeding

An Indian-promoted aviation company in New Zealand is developing what it claims to be the world’s first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for cloud seeding.

Auckland-based Apeiron Aerospace, an innovative aerospace company focussed on delivering technology to the global UAV sector, has designed a tactical UAV system for cloud seeding as the existing process involving manned aircraft endangers the lives of pilots.

“There is a need for UAVs for cloud seeding. It is a question of pilot’s life. It becomes very difficult to control the aircraft in high turbulence,” Sanjeev Rao, director, Apeiron Aerospace, said.

The firm floated by him last year exhibited its model at India Aviation 2012 here recently. Apeiron, which has tied up with Bangalore-based Krishi Air Private Limited, feels there is a market for such UAVs in India.

“Manned aircraft are being used for cloud seeding. The pilot has to agree to go into the clouds which is very dangerous. Usually they don’t want to go,” he said.

Rao said the design exhibited at the air show was a robust one. The UAV can fly into the cloud, do the seeding and fly out.

The design was prepared six months ago, but a prototype is expected to be ready in another six to eight months. It will then be flight tested.

Besides India, the company is looking at other Asian, European, American and Australian markets.

The company is also coming out with different variants of tactical UAV system, which can be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Apeiron will display its variants for the military at the Defexpo-2012 to be held at Delhi from March 29. He feels there is a huge market for UAVs in India, especially the military market.

“The army, coast guard and the Navy need UAVs. There is definitely a market in India and I am hopeful that we will be able to strike a deal.”

He pointed out that unlike the US and Europe, India has a fewer UAVs, but there is huge requirement of the same in India. He hoped that regulations would be relaxed to facilitate the growth of the UAV sector.

The price of an UAV to be manufactured by Apeiron ranges between $500,000 and $750,000 depending on the requirement of the customer, endurance, range and the propulsion.

The Apeiron UAV system, which includes both hand-launched and rapid response, can be used for applications like pipeline and agriculture monitoring, search and rescue, border and maritime patrol besides meteorological research and practice and defence.

1 comment for “Indian-run New Zealand firm designs UAV for cloud seeding

  1. Peter La Franchi
    27 March 2012 at 12:02 am

    While one appluads the Indian business community for their broad approach to the UAS sector, the claim to a world first in the field of cloud seeding is not correct.

    The French companies Aquaelicium and RFTronic unveiled a UAV based seeding system at the Paris airshow in 2009. The purpose developed air vehicle was the RFTronic Coleo 700, an evolution of the Coleo ring wing family with a ceiling of 3000m. The chemical compound used was a hygroscopic salt. Demonstration flights are believed to have occured in Bourdeaux and Poitou-Charentes regions during the winter of 2009-2010.

    Another precedent can be found in the US state of Oregon, where Medford Airport authority pioneered the use of using tethered balloons during 2009 as a dry ice dispensing platform to break up fog banks. That system was known as CASPER, or “Cable Attached Systems Providing Effective Release”.

    It should also be noted that Singapore Technologies Dynamics has held a European patent for the conduct of cloud seeding using UAS since March 2009.

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