i-Drone

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    In Context

    • Recently, the ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone) was launched in Manipur.

    About the Project

    • Purpose:
      • The i-Drone was designed to overcome vaccine delivery challenges in hard-to-reach terrains of India, by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to these areas. 
      • It was used to transport Covid-19 vaccines travelling an aerial distance of 15 km in less than 15 minutes in Manipur.
    • Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur, Nagaland, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

    Significance 

    • Drones can be used in delivering important life-saving medicines and

    collecting blood samples in critical situations and in tough geographical areas.

    • Over the last decade, drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are being increasingly used for
      • law and order, 
      • courier services, 
      • surveillance and
      • attack in the military domain. 
    • Modern drones have been used militarily since the 1990s, including by the US during the Gulf War.
    • In India, the most commonly known drones are:
      • Quad- and hexacopters used for civil and commercial purposes, 
      • Heron drones used for military surveillance. 
      • Different UAVs operate under various technologies ranging from the remote control by a human operator to using GPS and radio frequencies, and autopilot assistance.

    India’s Drone Technology

    • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a detect-and-destroy technology for drones, but it is not yet into mass production. 
    • The DRDO’s counter-drone System was deployed for VVIP protection at the Republic Day parades in 2020 and 2021
    • Developed in 2019, it has the capabilities for hardkill (destroying a drone with lasers) and softkill (jamming a drone’s signals). 
    • It has a 360° radar that can detect micro drones up to 4 km, and other sensors to do so within 2 km. Its softkill range is 3 km and hardkill range between 150 m and 1 km.
    • The Army is working upon its swarm technology, with 75 drones swarming together to destroy simulated targets.
    • Leased from other countries: In 2020, the Navy got two unarmed SeaGuardian Predator drones on lease from the US. The three forces want 30 of these UAVs between them.

    Source: PIB