Drones are quite handy for aerial photography and in places that are not easily accessible. However, they do come with a few hurdles such as limited battery power and high costs.
But here’s an alternative – KiteCams. Researchers at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-Hyderabad) have mounted tiny cameras on the kites to take aerial images.
The researchers at the Process, Architecture, and Technology Research in IoT (PATRIoT) lab designed a lightweight system that can be affixed to any ordinary kite for capturing images. A light-weight camera with an SD card is mounted on the spine of a kite. At 42 gm, the module weighed below the maximum limit required for lift-off.
Aftab Hussain of IIIT-H, who guided the team, said that since it consumes no energy, it can fly for hours, allowing people to take images in difficult terrains and in flood affected areas.
He admitted that the Kite-assisted Photography has its own limitations too. “You need enough wind to allow your kite to fly. Unlike drones, kites don’t have a stable flying path. This might hit quality of some pictures. But it can avoid RADARs and can be flown discreetly. Moreover flying kites is so natural to us. You need not have proper training,” he said.
“We figured out that the normal wind conditions can carry something like 50gms, of which 10 gm is the weight of the kite itself. So our entire system had to fit into approximately 40gms,” said Abhinav Navnit, who led the team.
The payload includes a camera, a processor and two ultra-light and flexible lithium polymer batteries that weigh only 4.65 gm each. In a flight of 35 minutes, the KiteCam took 4,356 images.
“Unlike drones, kites don’t make any noise. Moreover, the size of drones make them unlikely candidates for fact-finding missions in sensitive areas,” Aftab said.