Amrita’s Chakshuyaan, (vehicle-with-eyes), was adjudged the best project at TechTop 2009, a national contest for engineering students organized in Thiruvanthapuram. Over 200 teams participated from all over India; there were 6 entries from the 3 Amrita Schools of Engineering*, as well. The 30 teams that were short-listed** included teams from colleges in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Finally, Amrita’s team from the Amritapuri Campus won the top prize. The team carried home a cash award of Rs. 1 lakh !!!
“The project has earned back more than the amount that was invested in it,” proudly noted Associate Dean, Dr. Balakrishnan Shankar, who guided the students. The interdisciplinary team was composed of B Tech students from different branches of study and BBM students who helped provide project management expertise. The students had wanted to learn and do something different. “We had wanted to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real-life applications.” Why Chakshuyaan? “We took it up as a challenge when we saw a prototype that didn’t quite work, developed by IIT students. We thought we would try to make it work.”
It took two years. The students began when they were in the second year of their B Tech studies. Today, the students are in the final year, ready to graduate and go on for higher studies. Today, Chakshuyaan can fly, and equipped with a camera, it can see. This student project can potentially find many applications in surveillance, rescue operations during natural disasters, remote sensing, thermal imaging, GPS mapping and weather monitoring. World-wide there are devices that can perform some of these functions, but this student project is special in that the prototype uses indigenously developed technology that is cheaper. Junior students at Amrita will carry the work forward.
“After we completed the feasibility study in Dec 2007, and the college decided to support the project, we procured servo and brushed DC motors. In June 2008, during our internship at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, we learned about brushless DC motors that were much lighter, and were used to power micro-aerial vehicles. We decided to use this motor instead.” The students also decided to build the speed controller for the motor, instead of buying it. Their controller cost only about $20, whereas the commercially-available model was priced at $50. Chakshuyaan is very light. It weighs 6 kg and can carry a payload equal to or even a little greater than its weight.
In August, the students will present a paper at an international conference in Singapore based on their original work in tuning the engine for Chakshuyaan.*** Their engine uses nitro-methane fuel that is fully-combustible, low on carbon emissions and environmentally-friendly. The students received guidance at every step of the way. “We don’t think that any other college would have supported a student project to this extent. The college funded our efforts and Bala Sir and Josh Sir worked so patiently with us.”
Bala Sir is the students’ beloved Associate Dean, Dr. Balakrishnan Shankar. Josh Sir or Joshua Freeman is their equally beloved mentor. He may not have taught any classes that Shreyas Narsipur (Mech), Shibesh Dutta (ECE), Vandana Vikram (ECE), Raghu Menon (EEE), Apoorv Singhal (BBM) and Sashi Sekhar (BBM) attended, nevertheless he was always on hand to patiently answer their many questions and guide them. So were all the other teachers, the students approached. Indeed, their victory is the victory of the entire college !!
August 20, 2009
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
* OTHER AMRITA ENTRIES
Amrita School of Engineering, Amritapuri
|TURBO CHARGED SIX STROKE ENGINE||Pramod Sreedharan, Aravind C., Ananth Krishnan R., Goutam Ravi|
Amrita School of Engineering, Bangalore
|AUTOMATIC TURN ON/OFF SOLAR LIGHTS USING DARK AND LIGHT SENSOR||H. R. Girish, J. Aswin Kumar, C. H. Amarendra|
|AUTOMATED APPLICATION FORM PROCESSING||Meena Belwal, Jeetesh N., Jyothish K., Lalitkumar K. Srusrumal, Sanjay N.|
|MINE DETECTION SYSTEM||Divya Pasupuleti, Ranjith R., Radhika P., Sharath B.C., Divya S., Jyothi H. S.|
Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore
|EFFECTIVE EMISSION CUT IN IC ENGINES||S. Srihari, H. Ramakrishna, K. V. Krishna Mohan, V. Santosh|
** Other products shortlisted for the final round included an automatic solar panel guide system, a punching station and a surveillance robot to detect bombs. “The most innovative, socially relevant and commercially exploitable projects will get a cash award of Rs.1,00,000,” stated the competition brochure. “The project can be interdisciplinary and it is not necessary for it to be a curriculum project … interdisciplinary group projects are encouraged.”
*** Shreyas Narsipur, Raghu I. Menon, Shibesh Dutta, Vandana Vikram, Methods for Achieving Maximum RPM for Given Engine Power for Unmanned VTOL Aerial Vehicles, International Conference on Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering, Singapore, August 26-29, 2009.