The Indian public-sector electronics manufacturing firm, Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) has built an exceptional tethered drone. The drone is named Patang which literally translates to kite in Hindi. Also, this project is a result of a collaboration with Anna University. The Patang drone has a maximum altitude of 100 meters and is completely customizable. However, it is developed mainly for broadcasting and surveillance.

The Patang Drone

This drone can remain operational for several hours if powered by a tether. The drone is apt for airborne applications which require long endurance and the ability to withstand harsh environments. Its applications include border as well as city surveillance, crowd analysis, traffic information, wild animal tracking, reconnaissance, and search and rescue during disasters.

The Patang drone weighs a whopping 9 Kgs (19.8 lbs) and is the size of a coffee table. It can be launched from shipboard, mobile ground vehicle, and fixed platforms. The most striking feature of this drone is its cameras. It is equipped with night and day, ultra-high definition cameras which can zoom up to 2 Km (1.24 miles). Owing to this magnificent feature, the drone can be used as a virtual telescopic mast.

“So, we don’t need to move anywhere. We can just zoom to identify the number plate of a (suspicious) car far away from here,” said Muralidharan P, technical assistant at Anna University. Additionally, the drone was built in just four months by a team of 85, which was mainly comprised of students and professors.

One of the most secure drones

Besides the extreme camera setup, the UAV has highly efficient tether and power cables. These cables provide the drone with uninterrupted power and high bandwidth for secure communication. This also highlights an imperative fact about the drone which is security. The Patang drone’s system is built to be completely jam or hack-proof, unlike any other drone. Keeping in mind the capability, size, and security of the UAV, it can be classified as a flying watchtower.

“We have already tested the prototype and we will commercialize it soon,” said Gunvanta V Mate, project manager at BEL, which demonstrated the indigenously developed blue camouflage-printed drone at the Aero India 2019.

India, the world’s sixth largest economy, is booming with emerging technology. Experts say scaling up such partnerships between industry, academia, and startups are critical. With 22.5 percent of the world’s UAV imports, India tops the list of drone-importing nations, according to the data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).