Faculty members of SRM AP-Dr. Venkata Nori and Dr. Jayaprakash Panchagnula (Department of Mechanical Engineering) and Dr. Anirban Ghosh (Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering) invited the celebrated researcher Dr. Sumon Sinha to visit our campus and conduct a three-day workshop on “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Design for Low Altitude Weather Data Acquisition”. Dr. Sinha did his B.Tech (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur and his MS and Ph. D. from the University of Miami with specialization in Fluid Dynamics. After being associated as faculty in eminent institutes in the US including University of Mississippi, he delved into his business venture, Sinhatech in 2007 to provide innovative solutions to unresolved technical issues in Canada, USA, Japan, etc. Through his intuitive understanding of the subject, he developed and patented the Composite Flexible Surface Deturbulator to obtain higher controllability of drones in a high crosswind.
Dr. Sinha aims to offer solutions to certain fundamental problems in India through his expertise in aerodynamics. With his motivation to serve the country he has his roots attached to; he aims to build a team that would assist him to accomplish his dream project of using drones to gather weather reports on the sea surface at low altitude as well as general weather forecast data. “The sensors attached to the drone augmented with the deturbulator can gather critical data for accurate prediction of cyclones in the sea which the presently used Doppler Radar can only approximate”, says Dr. Sinha providing solutions to issues related to storm prediction. He further adds, “In India, weather stations use immensely expensive and non-reusable helium balloons embedded with sensors to capture data for general weather reports”. He intends to offer a cost-effective solution to these problems with reusable and less expensive drones.
On 3rd January, our faculty shortlisted a team of 15 enthusiastic students who worked on this assignment alongside Dr. Sinha. When asked what intrigued them regarding the workshop, N. Venkata Kishore Kumar Reddy (2nd year, ECE) says, “My father is in the Indian army which made me aspire to build a drone someday that can work as a spy for the army”.
The workshop began with a lecture by Dr. Sinha where the students got a glimpse of the engineering concepts behind building a drone which can go up to 120 feet to gather atmospheric data.
Later, he demonstrated the flight of the drone where the students got hands-on experience in controlling the device.
“I learned a lot about UAV from Dr. Sumon Sinha who is excellent in explaining the concept, he is also brilliant in flying RC objects. This knowledge will help us identify the various applications of the fixed wing plane-UAV in the future”, expresses M Raviteja (2nd year, ME).
The students were then divided into three groups and were assigned the task of building a drone each.
“The interactive sessions improved my knowledge on drones, air vehicles, and the basic aerodynamic science that works behind the flying objects” speaks Krishna Teja Vinnakota (1st year-CSE). On the last day of the workshop, the teams managed to develop three drones, one of which was embedded with the sensors that accurately captured data on temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, altitude, latitude, longitude, and dynamic pressure. “After having experience with the basic technicalities of building the drones, it is on us to improve its functionality and make it more usable” conforms Kishore who has already made an Agri Drone which can throw seeds coated with fertilizers in farming lands from a height of 4.5 meters above the ground. Inspired and educated from the workshop, our students plan to build a quadcopter in their next venture.