Drone to inspect ships, underwater structures wins start-up contest

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 30, 2017

EyeROV stands a chance to win $50,000 in the US

A robotic drone that can send real-time video of ships and other underwater structures to help with their repair and maintenance has won a prestigious US-centred hardware start-up competition held in India for the first time at Kochi-based electronics incubator Maker Village.

EyeROV, developed by Johns T Mathai and Kannappa Palaniappan P, was selected from seven finalists out of 35 applicants in the Kochi leg of AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup, the competition’s first pilot in India to evaluate hardware tech start-ups which are ready to launch their products in the next 3-6 months.

The EyeROV drone can be navigated up to a depth of 50 metres to take real-time HD video to examine ship hulls or undersea cables or bridge moorings, eliminating the need for costlier and riskier manual inspection by divers.

The drone, which was tested on India’s first solar ferry at Vaikom, Kerala, offers high manoeuvring capability at low cost, and can be put to various uses — inspections of ship hulls, ports, dams and nuclear power plants, search and rescue operations, naval mine detection and ocean studies.

Vying for the grand prize

The team, which was incubated at Maker Village (a joint initiative between the Department of Electronics and information Technology, the Kerala government and the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management), will receive a cash prize of ₹25,000 and a chance to participate in the finals on April 18-19 in Pittsburgh.

The US competition will pit the team against seven US regional winners and five international winners for a $50,000 grand prize, along with the chance to be accelerated for 3-6 months by AlphaLab Gear, and a host of other prizes.

Their trip to the US will be sponsored by AlphaLab Gear, the TiE chapter in Pittsburgh, and Maker Village.

EyeROV faced stiff competition in the final round from innovative products, including an Internet of Things device to help farmers avoid catastrophic beehive collapse by forecasting when bees are likely to swarm away, and a women’s safety garment that allows the wearer to send a distress signal and provide a nasty shock to assaulters.

Thenmozhi Shanmugam, founder of start-up ecosystem enabler Fundcloud Partners and principal partner in organising the event, said the quality of the participants were so good the judges had a hard time picking the finalists and winner.

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Published on March 30, 2017
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