How Delhi-based startup mesmerised the world with drone light show

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When over 1,000 drones, dazzling in different colours, lit up the sky over Lutyens’ Delhi during the Beating Retreat Ceremony, the Indian startup success story once again took the world by storm.

The 10-minute drone light show was conceived, designed and produced by Botlab Dynamics, a start-up incubated by IIT Delhi, which is now being run by Tanmay Bhunkar, Anuj Kumar Barnwal and Dr Sarita Ahlawat.

According to IIT Delhi Director, Professor V Ramgopal Rao, he personally witnessed the trials and tribulations the startup went through in building drones.

“The Institute helped them at every stage. The Department of Science and Technology (TDB), FITT and IHFC from IIT Delhi provided them financial and technical support through various government of India schemes,” Rao said in a tweet late on Saturday.

With this, India has become the fourth country in the world to have indigenously developed such a technology, he informed.

The key focus areas of the startup is to use drone technology for defence and media and entertainment.

In early 2012, Co-founder Bhunkar took his first UAV flight and by 2014, he and his team were asked to deliver eight drones that would join the Delhi Police.

In 2016, BotLab Dynamics was incorporated at the Technology Business Incubator Unit at IIT Delhi.

In the same year, BotLab Dynamics sold heavy-lift systems to IARI (the Indian Agriculture Research Institute).

In 2017, BotLab Dynamics was awarded Nidhi-SSS (DST, Govt of India) of Rs 50 lakh for future research and development.

The following year, BotLab Dynamics got selected by Army Design Bureau (ADB) to demo the heavy lift drone in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.

BotLab Dynamics demonstrated a swarm of 10 drones with obstacle avoidance capability to the Army at NorTech, Udhampur.

It later received the Prime Minister’s award and iDEX grant of Rs 1.5 crore for R&D.

The 1,000 drones were used to depict 75 years of Independence or what is known as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ under the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Botlab Dynamics is working on cutting-edge drone technologies like swarming and drone light shows from ground-up in-house designed components.

BotLab Dynamics has built technology that allows many drones to fly simultaneously and autonomously in interesting spatial and temporal formations.

The technology is built from scratch by BotLab.

According to its founders, the goal of the BotLab is to fly thousands of drones simultaneously operated by a single user.

“Our mission is to be part of the ecosystem that makes building hardware easy in India. We are building drone technology solutions by designing both hardware and software in-house,” they said.

The team has developed a full stack of solutions for drone light shows.

Building a complete system is hard and making several copies with identical performance is even harder.

“Making all the drones position themselves precisely so that a viewer can identify a form is a huge challenge. What we have developed is capable of scaling it to thousands of drones flying in detailed vivid imagery,” according to the company.

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