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Cicadas: Miniature drones can spy on enemy troops

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Image Courtesy: Discovery News

By NewsGram Staff Writer

US military scientists have designed a miniature drone, Cicada, which can be used on civil missions and in wars. Cicada stands for Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft.

“The “micro air vehicle” is named after the insect that inspired its invention, the Cicada, which spends years underground before appearing in great swarms, reproducing and then dropping to the ground dead,” according to Discovery News.

AFP reported that it is designed to be smaller, cheaper and simpler than any other robotic aircraft but is still able to carry out a mission in a remote battlefield.

Aaron Kahn, a flight controls engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory, told the news agency, “The idea was why we can’t make UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that have the same sort of profile.”

“We will put so many out there, it will be impossible for the enemy to pick them all up,” he added.

The prototype model has cost just a thousand dollars, and Kahn also stated that the cost could come down to as low as $250 a piece.

Despite of its small size, the Cicada drone can fly at about 46 miles (74 kilometers) per hour and is fairly silent, as it has no engine or propulsion system.

Daniel Edwards, an aerospace engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory, said, “It looks like a bird flying down,” adding that the drone is “very difficult to see”.

The researchers have said that these miniscule-drones can be used for a multitude of missions, from weather forecasting or monitoring traffic on a remote road, beyond the enemy lines to eavesdropping on enemy troops.

Kahn said, “You equip these with a microphone or a seismic detector, drop them on that road, and it will tell you ‘I heard a truck or a car travel along that road.’ You know how fast and which direction they’re traveling.”

“They are robotic carrier pigeons. You tell them where to go, and they will go there,” Edwards told AFP.

Edwards added that despite their toy-like appearance, the Cicada drones are surprisingly robust.

“They’ve flown through trees. They’ve hit asphalt runways. They have tumbled in gravel. They’ve had sand in them. They only thing that we found that killed them was desert shrubbery,” he said.

The news agency reported that academics and almost every branch of government have expressed an interest in the Cicada program, including some intelligence agencies.

“Everyone is interested. Everyone,” Edwards concluded.

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Here’s Why Drones May Prove To Be Helpful in Battling Coronavirus in India

Officially there are about 16,000 drones in India

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Officially there are about 16,000 drones in India, says report. Pixabay

With the states across India pulling out all stops in the country’s battle against coronavirus, a Chennai-based drone company too is using its technological innovations to tackle the scourge in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur and elsewhere.

“Our drones will spray disinfectant on areas specified by the Chhattisgarh government, usually hospital areas, government offices and buildings,” Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Managing Director of city-based Garuda Aerospace, told IANS.

Jayaprakash, 29, has created quite a splash in the international swimming pools to win medals for India. In his home state Tamil Nadu, he says, the government is doing pilot studies on spraying disinfectant with Garuda’s drones on the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, as also Ripon Building that houses the Greater Chennai Corporation, and others.

The drone manufacturer has bagged orders from some private hospitals in Chennai for disinfecting their buildings as well, he added. The challenge before him is to reach Raipur with his drones and pilots amid the national lockdown.

“We will spray disinfectant over 770 acres initially. We will send two drones and two pilots by road initially. We can finish the spraying task in two days,” Jayaprakash said. “The total order is of Rs.2.3 crore for sanitiser spray across 180 sq km,” he added.

Interestingly, Jayaprakash was born with a lung ailment and will now be using drones to kill a virus that damages human lungs. According to him, Garuda Aerospace is getting enquiries from various state governments for disinfecting public places by using drones.

On the business model, he said: “It will be a sort of Drones as a Service (DAAS). We will provide our drones and the pilots to operate them. The customer has to provide the disinfectant.” He pointed out that a drone could cover 20 km distance compared to a human’s 4-5 km within specific time and that a fleet of 300 drones can cover 6,000 km linear distance in a day.

“During a pandemic, speed of disinfecting areas is important. Further, it is safe as health workers could be exposed to health risk while drones and their pilots are not. The speed, productivity, and precision of drones are better than human beings,” he added.

Coronavirus, Coronavirus Covid-19
With the states across India pulling out all stops in the country’s battle against coronavirus, a Chennai-based drone company too is using its technological innovations to tackle the scourge in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur and elsewhere. Pixabay

Jayaprakash said that each drone can spray 40 litres of disinfectant every day, if deployed for 12 hours. The drones can fly up to a height of 400 ft and carry out spraying operations on even on tall buildings. According to him, Garuda has manufactured and serviced drones for several government departments in Tamil Nadu, like forests, electricity, police, mining, agriculture, Indian Coast Guard and others.

ALSO READ: Demand of Hygiene Products and Staples Rise Amid Lockdown

As the company had used drones to spray pesticides on farm land, it occurred to him to use them to spray disinfectants also, he said. Queried about the industry size in India, Jayaprakash said it is worth about $100 million and 15-20 organised players with all statutory licences. According to him, officially there are about 16,000 drones in India. (IANS)