Published: 17th July 2020
This 18-year-old from Ahmedabad is going to supply the Indian Army with drones to detect landmines
The drones made by Ahmedabad-based Harshwardhansinh Zala have been appreciated by our PM Narendra Modi as well. This is the story behind how he made them and what are his plans in the future
A boy who tinkered with every household appliance at the age of nine, founded Aerobotics7 when he was 12, at the age of 16 he met PM Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and at 18, today he supplies his drones that detect landmines to the Indian army — that's the basic trajectory of the life of Harshwardhansinh Zala. Quite extraordinary, won't you say? And instead of having a conversation with a know-it-all smug teenager, when we actually spoke to the Drone Boy, as he has been dubbed, we found him to be an open book who willing let us turn back the pages of his life and let us in on how he came to be of service to our nation.
Displaying it to the Indian army | (Pic: Harshwardhansinh Zala)
How it all started
Raise your hands up if you have settled comfortably on the sofa on a sultry summer day and only then remembered to switch on the fan. But Harshwardhansinh actually did something about it. He devised a remote control that controls the fan and the TV. That's where it all started for the guy who used to spend six to eight hours in cyber cafes to quench his thirst for knowledge. "By the age of 12, I had roughly completed 42 projects, eight robots and five different types of drones," says the youngster as if he can hardly believe it himself. But he always knew it is the humanity he wants to do something for. It's when he was reading up on the internet, as he usually does, he found out about landmines and immediately abhorred what it does to human life. "The detectors that existed could detect only metal landmines, not plastic ones. Plus, it required human intervention," explains the young lad who founded Aerobotics7 when he was 12.
The very first step was securing funds for his research. Harshwardhansinh put his razor-sharp brains to use and decided to take tuitions and help Engineering students older than him complete their final year projects. Yes, you read that right. Besides that, he read up more and more and soaked in knowledge about drones, IoT and characteristics of landmines. After the failure of three prototypes, he finally made his first successful one in January 2016. At Vibrant Gujarat 2017, he presented his drone and the Government of Gujarat signed an MoU for five crore with them. After that he showcased it to the DG of CRPF and eventually, to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2018 at iCreate, the incubation centre. "Both the PMs were very impressed with us and indeed, it was a big moment for me," says the entrepreneur who just completed his class X.
Being recognised | (Pic: Harshwardhansinh Zala)
Since the start-up is in an agreement with the CRPF and Indian Army to supply the drones within two months of placing the request, there is not much about the drones that the CEO can reveal, but he does let us in on the fact that it flies about three metres above the ground and can detect mines eight feet underground. They have made seven successful prototypes to date and they have six combined patents. "We are also in talks with governments in Africa like South Sudan to see if they would be interested in our drones," says the youngster and signs off.
For more on the start-up, check out facebook.com/aerobotics7