In a historic feat, India’s first drone that can carry human payload of up to 130 kgs was unveiled in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’ in New Delhi.

‘Varuna’ country’s first human carrying platform — pilot-less drone, has been indigenous developed by the Indian start-up Sagar Defence Engineering. The drone has the capacity to carry one person inside. During the demonstration the pilot-less drone flew around two meters above and then moved forwards before coming back to land.

According to Sagar Defence Founder and CEO Nikunj Parashar, this is India’s first electronic human carrying platform and the drone has been specially made for the Indian Navy, where the force can initially use it in transferring materials from one ship to another in future. A patient can also be taken to the hospital.

In ‘Varuna’, there are four auto-pilot modes which enable it to continue flying even if some fans fail to function, he added.

Deciphering Varuna

Presently, undergoing the land-based trial, Varuna will hit the sea trials in the next three months. The personal air mobility vehicle has the capability to fly till the range of 25km while carrying a payload of 130 kilograms. Further, it can endure between 25- 33 minutes.

Interestingly, Varuna has been developed in two parts – one being the technology, which helps the drone to land and take off from moving warships and the second being the platform itself.

Notably, the landing and taking off technology has been developed in tandem with Indian Navy DSR. India’s first human carrying drone is presently being developed along with NTDAC (Naval Technology Development acceleration cell).

It is noteworthy that 30 Varuna drones which can land and take off from warships, have already been delivered to the Indian Navy, and it is also the first time ever that the Indian Navy is inducting drones on warships, Parashar added.

Initially it can be used for moving /transferring materials. There are four auto-pilot models which help the drone to continue flying even if some fans fail to function. This new vehicle has the capability to be used for inter-ship transfer of material and personnel. And is capable of carrying out autonomous take-off and landing even when the ships are moving.

Besides using it to transfer materials from one ship to another, the drone can also deliver medical facilities like delivery of essential medicines to far off areas and medical evacuation. This means, in case of emergency, a person can be evacuated from sea, and immediately taken to the hospital.

In June last month, Sagar Defence Engineering had given a demonstration of the new personal air mobility vehicle to the Deputy PM of Australia who had visited INS Hansa in Goa.

Further, the start-up has already been awarded a contract for the development of an autonomous and intelligent underwater swarm of drones under Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) by Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) along with the development support from Mazagon Dock Limited (MD), who is the funding, testing as well as manufacturing partner.