StemINSPIRE

The Boy Who Built Landmine Detecting Drones

Boys his age spend their time playing and loafing around, this wonder boy Harshvardhan Zala has built not one, but three prototypes of drones that can detect and defuse landmines.

He’s all of 14 and already a celebrity in the field of engineering and innovation. That’s Harshvardhan Zala for you. While other boys his age spend their time playing and loafing around, this wonder boy has built not one, but three prototypes of drones that can detect and defuse landmines. His innovation has the potential to be a life-saver for army men, police personnel, border security forces and CRPF personnel in India. Not only this, he’s even signed a MOU worth Rs. 5 crore with the Gujarat Government to explore the commercial production of his creation!

It all began one day, in 2014, when Harshwardhan was watching the news on TV and was captivated by a snippet of news. It was about the dangers army men faced due to landmines laid in hazard territory. He was deeply moved by the gruesome statistics of army men dying or being grievously injured due to landmine blasts. That set him thinking on the lines of creating a robot that would detect and diffuse landmines, thus saving potential lives of Indian soldiers.

However, pretty soon, he realized that a robot was hardly a feasible idea for the purpose he had in mind. The heavy weight of the robot itself would trigger a blast and destroy it, thus making it a futile exercise. Not to be disappointed, Harshwardhan came up with an alternate idea- a drone that could fly at a safe distance while detecting and diffusing the landmines.

Convinced that this was the best solution to the pressing problem of landmines, he set about building the drone all by himself. His ever-supportive parents pitched in with the finance part of the experiment, spending close to 2 lakhs to help Harshwardhan realize his dream. By 2016, Harshwardhan had built three prototypes of the drone, each time improving its features and adding new ones, to extract maximum efficacy out of the model. The Gujarat Government chipped in too, giving him a grant of 3 lakhs for creating the third prototype- this one chockfull of useful features.

Harshwardhan unveiled his creation at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, 2017, before a packed audience. In Harshwardhan’s words, “The drone has been equipped with infrared, RGB sensor, and thermal meter, along with a 21-megapixel camera with a mechanical shutter that can take high resolution pictures. The drone also carries a bomb weighing 50 gram that can be used to destroy the landmine.”

The drone sends out waves that cover an area of eight sq mt while flying two feet above the surface. These waves detect land mines and communicate their location to a base station.

Now all that remains to be done is to get the efficacy of the innovation tested by Indian security agencies. If all goes well, the Government plans to go ahead with the commercial production of the drone.

Harshwardhan has already filed a patent for his creation, as well as set up his own company ‘Aerobotics 7’.  He believes that his interest in science, technology and innovation from a young age helped him achieve the incredible feat. He plans to build more such gadgets and aims to become bigger than Google and Apple someday.