CHENNAI : Dhaksha, the team of experts in avionics, formed under the guidance of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and named by him, has crossed 18 long eventful years in result-oriented researches on (UAVs). The team which was started with a fund of just Rs 20,000, is now carrying out orders worth Rs 50 crore from various State governments and the defence department. This team, comprising K Senthil Kumar, Director, Centre for Aerospace Research, Anna University, S Thamaraiselvi, CU Hari and A Mohammed Rasheed received the APJ Abdul Kalam award for 2018 from the Chief Minister during I-Day celebrations on Wednesday.
Talking to Express, Senthil Kumar recalled how Kalam was instrumental in forming this team. “Significantly, the first project Kalam undertook after he joined the DRDO was UAVs. But, he could not test run that UAV because the facilities were not available at that time. So, UAVs had been one of the subjects close to the heart of Kalam. So, Kalam during his days as professor in Anna university encouraged us to do research works on UAVs.”
Senthil Kumar recalled that a year after the ‘twin tower’ attack in the United States, the US Department of Defence organised a technology demonstration in May 2012 at Fort Stewart Military base in which 153 countries took part. Dhaksha participated in the event and displayed the research works already done in this field. At that time, USA offered $1 lakh to Dhaksha team.
“When we sought the advice of Kalam in this regard, he said Senthil, do not sell yourselves. Try to do something beneficial to the Indian government,” Senthilkumar said and pointed out that after their return from USA, Kalam linked them to some key government departments.“When K Ramanujam was the DGP of Tamil Nadu, he gave us a UAV project worth `1 crore. One of the key developments during the past 18 years is that the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, congratulating us for doing research works that would benefit society, granted `20 crore to our team in 2016. No government in India had made such a grant. It is a long journey. We just started with a minimum fund of `20,000. But today, we are working on orders worth Rs 50 crore,” he said.
The Dhaksha team is participating in Medical Express 2018 event in which eight countries, including India, have been chosen among 120 countries. “We will be showcasing how the drones can be utilised for humanity particularly in health services. We have designed an air ambulance weighing around 20 kgs which can carry four or five kilos of emergency medicines to places of necessity quickly,” Senthilkumar added.