JORHAT, June 14 - A start-up formed by six youths who are from engineering background, and registered with Start-up India and Start-up Assam, has developed a low-cost automated drone to be operated by using artificial intelligence for spraying fertilizers and pesticides for agricultural purposes.
The start-up by the name AgSpert Technologies Pvt Ltd (http://www.agspert.com) that has developed the drone with mentorship and logistic support of North East Agriculture Technology Entrepreneurs’ Hub (NEATEHUB) at the Assam Agricultural University campus here is all set to launch its first commercial service for potato cultivation at Biswanath Chariali district in northern Assam.
Speaking to this newspaper, the Managing Director of the start-up Siddhartha Bora, a mechanical engineer from NIT, Silchar, who is originally from Jorhat, said he along with five others after forming the start-up have been working at the incubation laboratory of NEATEHUB since last year on the project to develop a smart low-cost spraying drone valued at approximately Rs two lakh. Earlier this year, field trials were completed and the drone is presently ready for commercial use.
The other partners of the start-up are: three final-year IIT Guwahati students (Manik Mittal, Akash Sharma, Nitin Chauhan), another NIT Silchar passed-out mechanical engineer (Dhritiman Talukdar) and a science graduate of JB College, Jorhat (Kookil Goswami).
Stating that the cost of such type of smart spraying drone costs Rs five lakh and above in the market, Bora said their project was likely to be the first of its kind in the North East region and the start-up has obtained the required license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the pilots who will fly the drone via remote control.
He said along with his partners, they developed the hardware and software of the drone which has a five litre capacity chamber fitted to it from which the aerial vehicle will spray fertilizer or pesticide in specified areas as per necessity.
The battery-operated drone can remain airborne for about 20 minutes at one go, but can continue further by replacing the rechargeable batteries, the MD said.
Explaining about the project, Bora said before flying the spraying drone, they will fly a surveillance drone, in which they had purchased and installed a software developed by them so as to enable them to take photographs of the topography over which the drone was flying.
The software enables taking of photographs of the land and plants, which are subsequently processed and analysed in the computer by the start-up team and accordingly the required amount of fertilizer or pesticide is loaded on to the spraying drone and sprayed over as per exact requirement in the areas allotted for the task, Bora informed.
He said the start-up as part of the project to offer fullstack solutions to their clients (farmers, mostly clusters) has also developed a device named smart weather station, which when installed on the ground of a farm will record the temerature, moisture, rainfall and soil nature to assist the farmers to take necessary measures to boost yield and quality of the crop.
Bora said after conducting field trials of the drone in potato cultivation, the start-up got its first commercial assignment at Gingia in Biswanath Chariali from a group of potato farmers.
He added that trials were under way in tea plantations and paddy fields. He said the start-up has developed a software especially customised for tea gardens, which will guide the drone to navigate smoothly by overcoming obstructions posed by shade trees.