Sky is no limit for this trio

Athil, Sarath and Akhil are in talks with the Kerala government regarding a project that will see the state getting a dedicated hyper-spectral satellite to monitor its geophysical and weather status.
Akhil, Athil and Sarath. (Photo | Express)
Akhil, Athil and Sarath. (Photo | Express)

KOCHI: Not getting bogged down by initial hiccups and forging ahead by strongly believing in their capabilities has set three engineering students on the path to success. Their dreams of going beyond the sky and into space are coming true with their indigenous innovative satellite Nambi SAT I.

Though their first startup which was launched in 2019 failed to take off, I Hub Robotics which they founded in 2022 is going places and even has subsidiaries.

CEO Athil Krishna, CTO Sarath S and COO Akhil Haridas are today in talks with the Kerala government regarding the project that will see the state getting a dedicated hyper-spectral satellite to monitor its geophysical and weather conditions.

“It all began in 2019. We started a company aiming to develop robots that can be used in the defence sector. We submitted a project proposal, ideated for the Border Security Force (BSF) to the Central Government. However, it took the government two years to give us a reply. Even as the delay happened, another problem came in the form of Covid. That put everything to a full stop,” said Athil.

But that was not the end of their dreams. The engineering students completed their course and decided to launch another company. “In 2022, we launched I Hub Robotics. We were funded by the I Hub Collective and the initial investment was D1 crore,” says Athil.

“We had experience in product development and I Hub was mainly involved in the development of humanoid robots like the ones used for service and restaurant,” he said. Now, that was in the past. The young team has moved on to their next initiative - space.

They launched another company Aero Sky that is working to achieve its goal of launching its first rocket and communication satellites in 2026. “The first step is to get into orbit a satellite developed by us. This is where Nambi SAT-1 comes in,” said Athil.

The prototype is ready and the company is in talks with the ISRO to get it launched in the space. “We are also being funded and mentored by the INSPACe. It is an independent nodal agency under the Department of Space for allowing space activities and using the Department of Space-owned facilities by non-government private entities and ensuring greater private participation in the sector,” he said. Meanwhile, the company is already working on the development of the Nambi SAT-2.

“This satellite is being developed for the state government,” said Athil. The initial estimated cost of the satellite is D 30 lakh.

“The plan is to get Nambi SAT-1 ready for launch by December. We aim to gather data that will help the development of Nambi SAT-2. We will be developing innovative components for Nambi SAT-2 since the traditional ones cost a lot of money,” he said.

The 2018 flood was one of the triggers that made them come up with the idea of a satellite solely for the state, he added. “Such calamities can be avoided in the future or at least we can be prepared for it if the data collected by the satellite is compared with the past data and analysed,” said Athil.  

They are even thinking of developing a robotic satellite that is equipped with autonomous systems and capabilities to perform tasks without human intervention. Besides developing cutting-edge technology in robotics, the team is also mentoring students in engineering colleges and also schools.

“We have set up a subsidiary called I Hub Labs. Through this, we help engineering colleges set up robotics labs. Then there is the I Hub Cart, an e-com platform that makes available the components needed to build a robot at a cost that is 20% less than other outlets,” said Athil.

The company was able to generate a revenue of Rs 1 crore in the first two-quarters of its founding. “We are expecting a revenue of Rs 5 crore in the next financial year,” he added. The Kochi-based company that started with just two employees now has 30.

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