I am a cofounder of Drona Aviation - an IIT Bombay startup drone startup focused on fostering drone innovation. We have recently launched PlutoX, the drone kit for makers and tinkerers on Indiegogo and we have achieved 66% of our goal. AMA about drones and startup culture in India!

Proof: https://twitter.com/dronaaviation/status/1037253460897484801

Comments: 223 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

indi_n0rd199 karma

Why are there so many new accounts in this thread?

sexymurse51 karma

https://iama.groovehq.com/knowledge_base/topics/who-can-do-an-ask-me-anything

AMAs should NOT be about:

Crowd Funding - AMA submitters that include crowd funding campaign links must be eligible for an AMA without the campaign for it to be allowed. Additionally, the focus of the AMA must not be the campaign, and the campaign must be fully funded. If the campaign is has not reached it's goal, it is deemed an advertisement, and will be removed. The final decision on eligibility rests with the moderators. IAmA is not your advertising platform.

and the campaign must be fully funded

godboleapurva-12 karma

So, the AMA is not for the campaign. However, the campaign only lets people get a context of what I build and our expertise. Which is why my answers are generally focused on the questions and most of them unrelated to the campaign. If there is a violation, I apologise and kindly suggest whatever needs to be done.

Ammadu_LetsdoKummudu4 karma

Duh! They were lurkers until they saw Mr.IIT over here and their chaddis started to became wet, so they made a new account to ask questions about the drones coz they're from "KnOwLedGe sHaRinG plAtFoRm".

certifiedname2 karma

Droṇācharya

godboleapurva-2 karma

Yup :)

PieterPlopplop54 karma

Ever made love to a man?

weredo91117 karma

Gay sex just got decriminalized in India, so it's possible.

godboleapurva-12 karma

Yup. All we need to do is be #opentoexperiment :P

godboleapurva-4 karma

Nope. Never felt like wanting to do it.

imlucid7 karma

What if it was brad pitt

godboleapurva0 karma

Brad Pitt from 'Fight Club' time... maybe...

chevyfried38 karma

Can we talk about Rampart?

godboleapurva-8 karma

What's a Rampart?

DrunkWino23 karma

So you make nanomachines, son? Do your suppliers ever keep you waiting, huh? Do you have any machines with Metal Gears? Are your products as easy as being played like a damn fiddle? Do you remember the basics of CQC?

godboleapurva4 karma

Nano-machines? - yup, as per definitions of most aviation authorities across the world
My suppliers? Yup - there is always a lead time to the delivery that I would love to cut down
Metal gears - hmmm.. well... not really
Are my products easy - You bet! Anybody can start his / her drone journey very quickly

DrunkWino14 karma

Good on you for playing along. I hope you find great success

godboleapurva-1 karma

:)

freakedmind2 karma

WOLBACHIA

godboleapurva5 karma

I don't know what that means but it's a very catchy word

morphinejenkins18718 karma

Are you going to fuck it up?

godboleapurva-12 karma

Pretty sure we won't. Whenever we start losing our direction, the drone community smacks us back on to the right path.

JustDroppinBy11 karma

This implies you've failed to appeal to your target market before, and leads me to believe that if your company becomes large enough to ignore them, you will again.

godboleapurva0 karma

I am not sure I understood this. But we've attempted some things in the past and our community of customers and developers told us right away whether it worked or not. We were lucky to have been supported by the customers a couple of years ago when the investors were unsure. Don't think we can afford to ignore them ever.

mcmaster-991 karma

What?

godboleapurva1 karma

Typo corrected

ixforres18 karma

So you're raising $30k but haven't actually done an injection mould for the frame? Given that usually moulds run into the tens of thousands, how is that going to work out?

godboleapurva5 karma

Well... injection moulds can be super costly for really large parts. For the nano drone sized frames, we expect the mould to cost ~$4k as per the last quote from the vendor. And we have worked with 3D printed frames till date sinceit hepled us test out with users and iterate designs.

m2guru13 karma

How big or small is a “nano” drone?

godboleapurva3 karma

Any drone lighter than 250 grams in classified as nano-drone

yes_its_him53 karma

That implies that a drone would be 109 times as much, or 250,000 metric tons.

That seems like a lot somehow.

godboleapurva14 karma

All jokes apart, here is the formal categorisation of drones by weight:

0-250gm - Nano drones
0.25-2 kg - micro drones
2 - 25 kg - Small
25 - 150 kg - Medium
>150 kg - Large

TractionJackson2 karma

Is GlobalHawk considered large, or is that another category?

godboleapurva2 karma

GlobalHawk should technically come under Large drones

GeT_NoT9 karma

Megatron.

bag_of_oatmeal3 karma

Megadron

godboleapurva3 karma

LOL!!

Dithot7 karma

The MQ-9A has a max takeoff weight of 4760kg, so if we use that as our baseline “1 drone”...

These things are 1/19,040th of that weight, so these are somewhere between a milli-drone and a micro-drone. A true nano-drone would be .0048g or about half the weight of a feather.

godboleapurva2 karma

I agree - a true "nano"-drone would be the size of an insect egg (or maybe lighter than that)

yes_its_him1 karma

To be honest, I was imaging nano-drones would be like these:

https://www.wired.com/story/this-insect-sized-flying-robot-is-powered-by-lasers/

godboleapurva4 karma

TBH, we were also looking at using the word "micro-drone" for Pluto. But then agencies across the world gave a formal categorisation of nano-drone for up to <250 gm which is where we fall.

Jaeburwahkei11 karma

How scared are you of swarms of nanodrones with small amounts of explosives being used for nefarious purposes?

godboleapurva7 karma

To be honest, there are a ton of low hanging fruits of good uses for nano-drones (and drones in general) before they start being used for violent purposes. To give a context, more % of cars have had accidents than % of drones being attempted for mischief.

Mandorism-2 karma

You mean the battery? It only takes one extra wire to turn any drone into that.

Jaeburwahkei5 karma

I feel like plastic explosives can convert higher densities of energy more quickly.

godboleapurva5 karma

Good point. In such a scenario however, I think it might be easier to control the supply of explosives than trying to control the drones ?

aftergloh8 karma

What can/should governments do to prevent the invasion of privacy that increased drones in public and private airspace can cause?

godboleapurva-7 karma

That is something both governments and the drone companies are trying to figure out in the medium term. Drones are relatively new (when you compare with say, cars or planes or anything else). Both the drone companies and the governments across the world are trying to work with each other in regulating the air space. And they are doing it iteratively, which I believe is the right way to go around it. They should (and I believe will) keep updating it every couple of years with the experience.

Hapusingh4 karma

What's your opinion on the new drone policy announced recently by the Indian government?

godboleapurva3 karma

I think it is a very good first step. They have taken inspiration from many of the other established regulatory framework from around the world which is a good fast way to catch up.

Another good part is that they have kept it paperless. There are still a few kinks in the policy. I hope that they will keep revising it every year for the next three years from their learnings of previous years and keep evolving not just with Indian but also global context in mind.

SkankBiscuit4 karma

Do you think Bobby Brown and Janet Jackson had coitus?

godboleapurva0 karma

I have been trying to call Janet with the same question. She doesn't take my call.

Coolmikefromcanada2 karma

How do you think drones should be kept from interfering with larger aircraft?

godboleapurva4 karma

The first step is to keep the airport and surrounding areas a clear no drone area - which is what most countries are adopting. Going further,
a) Regulations on clear flight ceilings definitely help
b) Away from the airports, planes generally fly at >10 km above the ground. Most drones don't touch that height (however) some of them are building communication which can last that long.

godboleapurva1 karma

You can send me your email id in inbox :)

charan7861 karma

What is the use of your drones?

godboleapurva1 karma

My drones are used for
1. learning drone concepts
2. prototyping drone ideas
3. Beginning your drone journey - (flying / experimenting)

yeolbatne1 karma

Aren't drones already pretty modular? One can learn to build application based drones from multitudes of forums/youtube channels and customize endlessly. Why would one want to limit their building components to your kit?

godboleapurva2 karma

Right. Software modularity (if I can use that term) is possible on the drones though performance might be affected. However, addition of hardware is cumbersome. You need to figure out which ports to connect your H/W to. We are bringing in Unibus (something like the USB for drone), where you can add in any new third party hardware to the drone easily. And we are opening the designs of this board for people. So, the components they can add are NOT limited to my kit.

godboleapurva1 karma

A bunch of things you don't get in the PlutoX kit but people have built: https://hackaday.io/search?term=plutox

r4ib3n1 karma

Michael Crichton called, and wants the plot of prey back.

Oh, this is an AMA. What will you do when your drones start self-replicating?

godboleapurva-1 karma

Damn! It'd be so cool to see that happen!!

r4ib3n7 karma

Obviously never read the book.

godboleapurva0 karma

I haven't :(
But in my imagination, it seems awesome

larrymoencurly1 karma

How much smaller are your nano drones compared to micro drones?

godboleapurva2 karma

Weightwise, our nano drones weight ~75 grams. An average micro drone weighs around 800 gm - 1300 gm.

Sizewise, our nano drones are slightly larger than palm sized and micro drones would be ~5 times the dimensions.

Again, depends on which micro-drone are you comparing it with.

Anon4comment1 karma

Are you doing this in India or the US? Is the Indian market ready for suh a product?

godboleapurva2 karma

We started out in Indian market with our first product Pluto 1.0. We have reached more than 30,000 students across India with this. We are taking this to the next level with PlutoX and reaching out to the global market.

Anon4comment2 karma

Congratulations! I am very happy that you managed to make it in India and will now play on the global field.

I’m no expert, but the usual problem for high-tech innovation in India seems to be a market that cannot afford the prices. Glad you made it through.

godboleapurva2 karma

That is true. Our Indiegogo campaign us the first step in taking the platform global.

unbinkable1 karma

Are you currently at the InterDrone conference in Las Vegas?

godboleapurva2 karma

No

TractionJackson1 karma

When will the machines rise up?

godboleapurva0 karma

I am not sure. But I sure hope to live to see that day.

imlucid0 karma

Oh shit you’re a super villian aren’t you

godboleapurva2 karma

Still in a nascent stage. One major tragedy required to convert me into a full fledged super villain.

neuromorph1 karma

What is the difference between a drone, micro- and nano- drone?

godboleapurva1 karma

Drone is the universal set of all unmanned (typically aerial) vehicles.

Micro drones are drone between 250 gm - 2 kg in weight.
Nano drones are drones lighter than 250 gm in weight.

neuromorph1 karma

so the drone community has no concept of metric units then?

what would a kilo or mega drone be classified as?

godboleapurva1 karma

Nope. As of now, metric units standards have not been set up.

Ancientoldmonkrum0 karma

Do you have any products in the US market that I can buy through eBay?

godboleapurva5 karma

PlutoX is the first one we are coming out to US with. www.flyplutox.com

None though ebay yet

chevyfried1 karma

He's doing a kickstarter so the probably answer is no.

godboleapurva1 karma

True that

newmurican0 karma

[deleted]

godboleapurva3 karma

We are bringing a swarm kit - this comes with the UWB based localization system that can allow you to build coordinated swarm of drone in your garage. Did I answer your question?

KarlJay0010 karma

What advantage to the consumer is there to what you're doing vs just buying parts from any vendor?

Generally, the advantage comes from economics. Example: You produce a board, chip, body, etc... that's much cheaper than people can get already.

What I see so far is that you're looking at getting an injection mold for a body... there's tons of bodies already done by others, why waste that money on that?

What do you offer that's any better than just putting together a kit?

Why can't someone just order these chips, motors, cards, batteries, props, etc... from any vendor and get the same thing?

What value are you actually adding to anything?

godboleapurva2 karma

Interesting and valid point there. Just organizing my thoughts here:
1. Selling hardware is the monetization part of the business. However the core value offering is in making innovations simpler.

  1. We do this by following things:
    a. More robust and crash resistant frames
    b. Extremely simple programming platform with APIs
    c. A camera that not only lets you get photos / videos but also allow image processing on top
    d. Hardware modularity to easily integrate newer hardware on top
    e. Learning Content for beginners and experts

We had to build this because we couldn't find something like this when we were developing drone ideas for competitions.

Best part is - this has allowed a bunch of people to come up innovations of their own and showcase to the world:
https://hackaday.io/search?term=plutox
We would have loved to get the parts from the open market and focus on these bits. We couldn't and that's where the Pluto ecosystem came from.

A_Feathered_Raptor0 karma

Have you ever considered your company and title sounds like it would fit in with a cyborg dystonia dystopia movie?

You're going good work. I'm just saying, don't bring about the Terminators.

Farmer7711229 karma

dystonia: Involuntary muscle contractions that cause repetitive or twisting movements.

A_Feathered_Raptor5 karma

Man, duck autocorrect.

chevyfried-1 karma

Ever heard of edit?

A_Feathered_Raptor8 karma

I edited my first comment while still keeping my mistake. And the second comment was a humorous joke poking fun at myself not paying attention to autocorrect.

Maybe I'll cancel that trip to open mic night...

godboleapurva2 karma

LOL!

godboleapurva7 karma

Haha... the company name "Drona" actually refers to the Indian mythological teacher Dronacharya who was among the best archery teachers in the world. It stuck well because of its proximity to the drone word.

But I promise you, I won't bring in terminators and definitely won't send them back in time.

finisotool-1 karma

Is it frustrating to know that most nano-drone technology is classified?

godboleapurva6 karma

Well, it is not. We are open sourcing almost everything (designs, firmware, SDK, learning content etc.) that we are creating. We hope you build some cool drone apps sitting in your garages and showcase to the world.

coryrenton-1 karma

how far away are completely solar-powered mini-drones?

godboleapurva12 karma

Solar powered mini drones are still some time away. Because the efficiency of solar cells hasn't reached a place where it can power the drones. Multi-rotors consume a very high amount of power. That is why the solar powered large aircraft was a fixed wing.

I might expect a hydrogen fuel cell powered drone to come in before a fully solar powered drone.

coryrenton2 karma

are there any interesting methods for drones to consume less power (e.g. wind sails etc...)?

Peewee22314 karma

Sure, stick a helium balloon on it.

coryrenton-1 karma

are there any balloons with photovoltaic surface to power drones?

godboleapurva1 karma

That might actually be doable. Blimps are among the lowest power consuming drones. They only need power to control their position and not to stay afloat. And by the gift of their designs, they have a large area that could potentially be harnessed for solar power. Not sure if people have done it. but I think it is possible.

godboleapurva3 karma

You can go with really large fixed wing drones that consume relatively less power and has large surface to generate enough solar power (Think Solar Impulse - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Impulse).

spctrbytz-1 karma

IndieGogo causes many prospective backers, myself included, to be wary.

Are you connected in any way with Robert Morrison / Morrison Innovations?

godboleapurva1 karma

No, we aren't connected to Robert Morrison / Morrison Innovations.

You being wary is justified with some failures on Indiegogo in the past. Which is why we had to make sure we had the tech ready and tested by drone innovators before we decide to launch on a platform like Indiegogo.

spctrbytz1 karma

For a good read, you might check this thread out about shenanigans on IndieGogo and why people have soured on that platform in particular. Good luck with your project.

godboleapurva1 karma

True. I have read about some other similar cases. There is a good reason for there to be scepticism about crowdfunding campaigns, especially in drone space. Unfortunately, they end up hurting people who want to genuinely do crowd sourced innovation.

On the good side, I have seen at least two business build and scale successfully and build a community of happy customers. We are chasing the same goal and just hoping that people haven't lost all hope around innovators on Indiegogo / Kickstarter.

tokenparents-3 karma

Are nano-drone safe for international travel?

godboleapurva4 karma

Yes - generally they are ok. A year or two ago, you'd probably face issues at Customs while entering a country but they are better aware of the effects and also aware of the regulations around it. My personal experience - if you're upfront about it, they let it in.

crumbhustler-5 karma

What programming languages do you use for the drones?

godboleapurva4 karma

We use C++ for programming the drones. Embedded C for firmware level programming. To work with Cygnus SDK, you;d require C++

godboleapurva1 karma

We use embedded C

realshacram-5 karma

Do you believe that you could help India get cleaner with your drones ?

godboleapurva2 karma

  1. Yes - mapping can give us clear data on areas that require cleaning. Efforts can be focused.
  2. There are other simpler ways too that can help maintain that cleanliness that may not require drones.

primelayns-5 karma

Hi Apurva, is your team worried about the drone being misused (for example invading privacy) given that Pluto is small enough ? Also, are there any steps being taken to address such issues ? Is live streaming and/or video recording through a camera supported yet ?

godboleapurva-9 karma

Good question. Let me answer part wise.
Is your team worried about the drone being misused (for example invading privacy) given that Pluto is small enough?
Mostly no. Because globally we have seen drones being used for a lot more good than being used for mischief. To give a perspective, you have more % of cars resulting in accidents than you have drones attempted to be used for mischievous purpose.

Also, are there any steps being taken to address such issues ?
Yes - both the authorities and drone companies are continuously working on evolving good practices to avoid misuses of drones and it will keep evolving for a while since both groups are trying to work together.

Is live streaming and/or video recording through a camera supported yet ?
Yes - PlutoX which we have launched on www.flyplutox.com provides both live streaming as well as photo / video recording.

jxkvm21-6 karma

Can I "test" one?

godboleapurva2 karma

Which country are you in? I'll try to see if there's someone in your country who we have sent out for tests.

jxkvm210 karma

Usa, Maryland

godboleapurva1 karma

I spoke to my team and we might be able to help you out. Just ping me with your details.

godboleapurva1 karma

Can you connect with me separately and I will see if I can speak to some alpha developers in US who can share the ones I have sent to them - or have you visit them in case they are in a nearby city.

USCAVsuperduperhooah-6 karma

What does “fostering nano drone innovations” even mean? Is that a fancy way of saying “manufacture small drones”?

godboleapurva1 karma

Mmmm... good point - well, it is not fostering nano-drone innovations but fostering drone innovations (my mistake in the intro up there). The idea is to build a repository of hardware, designs, use cases, learning content, codes and let the community access them by open sourcing so that they can easily start building their ideas and showcasing to the world.

deltasir-6 karma

What's your plan for U.S. and Chinese markets ? Any plans to set up base within the US?

godboleapurva3 karma

Yes - Through the Indiegogo campaign, we not only look to build support for the campaign but also reach out to potential partners. We are in talks with one from SF. I have my fingers crossed.

As of China, I have zero idea / plan. Happy to hear / learn about Chinese market.

Parulekar-15 karma

[removed]

godboleapurva-1 karma

PlutoX comes with hardware modularity and easy software integration, which help you as a tinkerer do develop over PlutoX and help you turn your drone ideas into innovations. It also has a camera that can not only take photos and videos but also do image processing on top of the drone. People have done some cool stuff . Check it out here:
https://hackaday.io/search?term=plutox

Deepalich-21 karma

[removed]

godboleapurva-10 karma

Yes - the kit comes up with 10 projects that you can build with the drone kit. Both for the super beginners as well as the experts.

IngeniumNihilist-23 karma

What's your 5 year plan? Considering there's no real legal scalability in India.

godboleapurva-10 karma

So, the Indian government came up with the regulations (just a week ago) to open up the Indian skies to the drones and their applications. That opens up a big possibilities for all drone companies in India.

At the same time, we are building drones for the global drone community. And there is enough market globally for tinkerers and innovators even with the present regulatory framework.

Nairvoyance-45 karma

Dear Apurva, After the announcement of making flying drones legal in India, we can see a surge of foreign companies vying for collaboration in the market space. Do you see it as a threat/competition or an opportunity for the Indian Drone Industry ?

godboleapurva-11 karma

Foreign collaborations & investments can bring in a lot of opportunity for building an ecosystem for drone innovations and applications. This would also mean a lot of new jobs for more people in India.