A project that began on a lark on a college campus has turned into a commercial venture for a team of three 22-year-old engineers. Intrigued by the idea of a small flying machine that could buzz around snapping photos, Aniket Tatipamula began tooling around in his college lab in an attempt to build a prototype.
“But his drones wouldn’t fly for the first two years,” says Rajesh Mane, a junior who would often work in the same laboratory at the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute in Mumbai.
It was only after they finished college and started corporate jobs that Tatipamula realised that the quadcopters he was experimenting with, also colloquially referred to as drone cameras, had immense commercial potential.
The team pooled in around Rs 2 lakh to develop one which unfortunately crashed very quickly. Undeterred they turned to senior college-mates for help and pooled in a further Rs 6 lakh to begin afresh.
“The subsequent copters built by us were much better, and withstood commercial demands,” says Mane who dropped out of college and joined Tatipamula, and another friend Neeraj Waghchaure, who quit their jobs, to launch Airpix in March this year. They now have three quadcopters ready and two more in the inventory.
Typically they import the motors and a few other parts but have designed their own chassis and control systems. “We can now build a finished quadcopter within a week,” says Mane, the chief operating officer of Airpix.