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Local funding tries to break the drone code

Novatech to unveil its drone at industry summit in Dubai with promise of longer distances and higher payloads

Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News
Designer Samy Kamkar and Sameer Lakhani whth the Novatech 1 drone
Gulf News

Dubai: Private funding from the UAE has gone into a drone (the more popular version of an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV)) that will have its big reveal at an industry event in Dubai early this week.

Los Angeles domiciled Novatech USA is unveiling a drone that will, according to its promoters, can carry higher payload and fly a wider radius over a 60-90 minute flight duration. But, more important, this version of the drone has inbuilt security features that will make it tamper-proof to outside manipulation.

The biggest concern in the nascent industry is that drones once in flight can be “taken over” and thus pose a possible threat.

“Rather than the radio-controlled transmitters that are common and only have basic in-built security, ours make use of a GSM network and where we can skip over multiple frequencies during a flight duration,” said Samy Kamkar, one of the partners in Novatech. “That allows for a greater degree of encryption levels and way above what is the average.”

The drone will be unveiled at the ‘Smart Drones for Smart Cities’ event on Tuesday. Under wraps tests were done in Hatta on Friday.

The promoters have fixed a tentative pricing of $30,000 (Dh110,100) for the drone if it makes the cut in winning regulatory approvals.

“We have initiated preliminary talks with relevant agencies which would play a part in easing the entry of the drone into actual commercial operations,” said Sameer Lakhani, who is also a partner in Novatech. “That Dubai should be fully prepared for the drone age comes from the top and that forms the basis for more ventures that can fully exploit a future market for UAVs.”

Dependable

The promoters — who plan to set up a local subsidiary of the firm in the coming weeks — also hope to score by pitching a higher GPS accuracy of up to 4 centimetres “on some applications than the typical 3-4 metres”, Lakhani added. “Current industry standards [from a viability perspective] are not at levels that allow it to be scalable, dependable or relevant.”

If accuracy levels of 4 centimetres can be obtained, a drone can serve many practical purposes. In real estate, it can provide for seamless demarcation of plots as well as aid in area calculation for the purposes of title deeds.

It was the ecommerce giant Amazon had raised the stakes in the big debate about using drones in a variety of commercial activity. At the time, it talked about using machines to deliver packages of a certain weight to the doorsteps of customers within specific radius. Other businesses too are now thinking of operations where drones can have a greater part to play. Or where they can have a perfect landing.

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