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Kochi start-up makes India's first commercial underwater drone for DRDO Lab

Gireesh Babu/Chennai 14 Sep 18 | 02:23 PM

An underwater drone made by Kochi-based EyeROV TUNA

Kochi-based start-up IROV Technologies Pvt Ltd (EyeROV) is launching commercial underwater drones by handing over the first vehicle to Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The company, backed by Kerala Start-Up Mission, oil and gas firm BPCL and the Department of Science and Technology, claims the product is the first indigenously-developed commercial underwater drone in the country.

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The EyeROV TUNA is a smart micro-ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) or underwater drone, at par with global standards, and with operational capabilities in harsh and mission-critical underwater environment. EyeROV is designed to perform visual inspection and surveys of submerged structures as a cost-effective underwater rover that works up to a depth of 100 metres. It can be e-controlled using a laptop or a joystick. A camera fitted on to the underwater drone, gives a live video feed of the submarine environment. The product is equipped to perform a variety of functions, including inspection of ship hulls, fish farms, dams, port structure and bridge foundations.

The company is bidding for various defence projects and has received its first order from NPOL, where the drone is expected to help the Laboratory in research operations. The first drone is being handed over the NPOL today (Friday, September 14) evening. The product is also useful in various underwater research operations and is expected to be sold to research institutes in this field, said Johns T Mathai, founder of the company.

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"Our vision is to disrupt the underwater critical infrastructure inspections industry," said Mathai, who said that the cost of the drone would depend upon the size and features of the equipment. While there are OEMs and companies like Chennai-based Planys Technologies manufacturing underwater drones, this is for the first time it is made commercially available, he averred. the production is mostly outsourced. 

The company recently got recognition from BPCL Project Ankur startup scheme and Kerala Startup Mission Idea Grant Scheme. The company has been founded by Johns T Mathai,  an IIT-Delhi alumnus and Kannappa Palaniappan P (IIT-Madras). Johns has worked in Samsung R&D, Bengaluru, and Grey Orange Robotics for over three years. 

Kannappa has Industrial experience working in Saint Gobain and  National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). 

The company also has mentors and advisors who were earlier with DRDO, the Indian Navy and the marine industry. It is now incubated at Maker Village, Kochi, an initiative of Govt of India and Govt of Kerala.

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