Fly high

Geeta Padmanabhan

On a calm afternoon, I stood in a field off the Chennai-Bengaluru Road in Sriperumbudur. A few feet away, Venkata Srinath, ECE engineer from College of Engineering, Guindy, was setting up what looked like a tripod. He clamped a control panel to its belly and began to assemble a small plane. “Some of its components have been imported, there is system integration,” he said straightening up. “Remember the tragic project in Three 3 Idiots? My inspiration.”

He was ready. “This is a single-man portable micro / mini UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) launched as vertical take-off or by hand,” he said, letting go of the vehicle. We held our breath as Garuda-02 soared into the sky and settled in its orbit above the field. Mission accomplished! “Note that there’s no runway,” said Srinath. “It lands on grass, sand, pebbles — any hard surface without damage.” The UAV has embedded control equipment monitored by a Ground Control System (GCS). Its fully-charged battery (12.5V) helps it keep an eye on altitude, radius etc. I peep at the GCS.