DRDO Rolls Out Multi-Purpose Micro Air Vehicles
Indian scientists from Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are presently developing Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) for varied defence applications such as surveillance and disaster management. These MAVs are made of a unique mix of material and are not easily detectable by radars.
The research and development on the MAVs are promoted by the National Design and Research Forum (NDRF), with support of Aeronautical Research and Development Board (AR&DB), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and various private groups.
The MAV are like tiny vehicles that work like spies in sky. They weigh only 300 gms and are 300 millimetres long. Since these MAVs are not entirely made of metal and carbon fibres, they are hard to intercept by radars and sensors. These MAVs have a range of two to five kilometers and they fly some 100 to 200 metres above the ground for 30-40 minutes and capture images.
Lt. Gen (Dr) V J Sundaram, key scientist behind the MAV who was the former Director DRDO said that the MAV may be of the order of $16,000 and the sensors alone will take up 30 to 40 per cent of the cost. As of now, the MAV programme has become a national research initiative and a proposal of $19.6 million has been submitted to the Government to approach the project in an integrated manner. While MAVs will come in handy for the Indian Defence Forces, it can also be applied in other areas such as disaster management since they can be easily operated and deployed.
The Indian defence research organisations first supported MAV concepts in 1998. A study of MAVs was initiated in 2002 and a “national perspectives” report was produced in April 2003. A decision to develop MAVs was taken in 2005 and in the same year there was a US-Indian workshop on the technology. A fixed-wing MAV project was proposed in 2006. In 2008, a prototype was produced for fixed, rotor and flapping-wing MAVs and work has been going on to enable technologies including navigation, power supply and launch and recovery.