Students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras have developed drones enabled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision that can detect humans in a disaster-hit area and provide real-time updates. The device called ‘Eye in the Sky’ Disaster Management and Humanitarian Aid Services can identify people, communicate with them and inform their location to the relief task force, according to the institute.
Developed by Centre For Innovation (CFI), IIT Madras, the ‘Eye in the Sky’ team won the finals of Indian Innovation Growth Programme (IIGP 2.0) University Challenge held at IIT Bombay recently. Among the ‘Top 18 Innovative Startups’ from all over India, they will receive Rs 10 lakh-worth equity-less funding. The team has also received ‘Microsoft AI For Earth’ Grant, which is given to only 390 projects globally.
Ayush Parasbhai Maniar, student member, UAVs For Disaster Management, CFI-IIT Madras, said, “We propose to use a team of drones, which can scan the entire disaster-affected region in just a few minutes to analyse and provide critical data that could potentially save lives. The final aim of our startup is to make end-to-end drone software solutions that can be used by any disaster response force of the world.”
The team plans to collaborate with hardware companies that can provide scalable drone technology to conduct the required spot surveillance of disaster-struck areas.
Highlighting the technical innovation behind this project, Lt General (retd) PR Shankar, faculty advisor of the team and professor of practice, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Madras, remarked, “The Eye in the Sky is an innovation based on futuristic disruptive technologies. It will be a powerful tool for saving lives and providing succour during disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations.”
"The Eye in the Sky can also help them to conduct an efficient aerial survey, to help provide food and water supplies and other medical and safety aids to marooned and trapped populations. It can help in rebuilding a collapsed communication channel and provide navigation support," he added.
The role of local relief task forces and NGOs remains crucial in all phases of disaster management. The Eye in the Sky can help them in documenting the findings of assessments, identify available resources and capabilities, and provide information to the disaster administration to overcome vulnerabilities and address risks.