EYEROV TUNA, India’s First Indigenously Developed Underwater Drone

Kochi: EYEROV TUNA, India’s first commercial Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)/underwater drone to send real-time video images of underwater objects and structures to help with their repair and maintenance has been developed by  EyeROV Technologies.

“One of the advantages of the underwater drone is that it can be controlled from the base-station situated above water. If the client demands, we can send a video of the whole inspection process so that they will get a clearer picture of the underwater structure,” said Johns Mathai, one of the developers of the drone along with Kannappa Palaniappan P, both graduates of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

It was Kannappa Palaniappan, who had worked as a Project Scientist on a ship, who ideated the concept of a robotic drone which helps examine underwater structures/portions like the hull of ship, as ships need to undergo comprehensive inspection once every three years.

The underwater ROV, weighing 18 kilograms, has thrusters and can be navigated down to a depth of 100 metres to get real-time HD video images to examine ship hulls or undersea cables or bridge moorings, eliminating the need for costlier and riskier manual inspection by divers.

Technical components of the drone are enclosed in a water-proof pressure hull. Videos can be used for more analysis. Using ultra sonic sounds, the drone can analyse the measurement of the metal sheets. A unit, camera and data analyser that can go underwater with the propeller are the ingredients of ROV.

EYEROV TUNA will also help analyse the sludge formation and be useful in carrying out aquaculture as well. This underwater drone also has gripper arms attached to it which will be helpful in salvage operations.

“We do not have enough divers to retrieve human body from water bodies. Also, when people get drowned in reservoirs or dams, it is not easy to find their bodies. By attaching sonars to this device, a large area under water can be scanned so that the bodies of drowning victims can be precisely located and then using the grippers they can be retrieved,” added Johns.

The drone has been designed to operate in a range of zero to 300 metres at a depth of 100 meters.
With this invention, there will be lesser dependency on imported drones which are almost five times costlier.

“We are also planning to upgrade the drone to the next level so that it can withstand stronger water currents. The present version can withstand up to 2 knots of water currents. Open seas have harsher environment and we may not be able to deploy the drone there,” said Kannappa.

The drone has been completely designed in a standardised form including the electronics and battery systems for large scale manufacturing.

NPOL, a laboratory under the Delhi-headquartered Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has already placed the first order for the product. The National Defence Academy will be a prospective client of the product.

“There are discussions going on with Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). They may also be our prospective client,” said Rohith Surendran, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), EyeROV Technologies.

The underwater drone is currently being manufactured locally and it will be used within the country. But we have plans to expand its market internationally,” he added.

Initial funding and getting customers were the major challenges in the development of EYEROV TUNA, the concept of which was developed back in October 2016. The development of the product EYEROV was largely supported by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) through its various schemes.

C Balagopal, Founder, Terumo Penpol, launched EYEROV at a function held in Kochi recently. S Kedarnath Shenoy, Director, NPOL received the ROV from Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM. The drone will be used by NPOL for research and development purposes which, in turn, would result in developing a commercial product for defence purposes.

Speaking on the occasion, Kedarnath Shenoy said that the underwater drone was co-developed by NPOL to meet their specifications. “Besides, we firmly believe that it would also energise the startup ecosystem in the State,” he said.
EyeROV has already developed three underwater drones. They are planning to enhance their manufacturing capacity every year.