Research and development activity in mini and micro air vehicles was suggested in 1998 at a seminar of The Aeronautical Society of India in Hyderabad. This activity has since been actively promoted by the National Design and Research Forum (NDRF) of The Institution of Engineers (India) with the support of Aeronautical Research and Development Board (AR&DB). DRDO, CSIR, educational institutions and private groups have participated enthusiastically in these activities including flying competitions, both national and international.
Mini Air Vehicle technology has matured in India to meet many user requirements while considerable R&D is still required for its micro cousins. The missions, specifications and applications for disaster management, defence/security have been studied and a 5 year National Programme has been proposed for fixed, rotary and flapping wing micro air vehicles limited to a maximum dimension of 300 mm
Sensors, biomimetics, brain-machine interface, vision based control-navigation-guidance, simulation, swarm operations, cooperation with surface/submerged unmanned vehicles and technical support facilities have been identified as critical technology areas. Appropriate integration of micro, nano, bio, cogno and information technologies for sensors as well as power supplies based on light weight batteries and fuel cells are essential.
Proposed project centers are at NAL, IISc, IIT (Bombay), IIT (Kanpur) and NDRF with a central Programme Center and Executive/Apex Boards for overall coordination and direction. The project centre at NDRF is a consortium involving academic institutions and R&D groups involved in micro air vehicles. The programme has been approved by AR&DB and sanctioned by the Government of India.