Given the scope of the 2022 Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that there were a lot of different types of companies on the exhibitor floor, along with a whole lot of different perspectives coming into the industry. While some exhibitors spent a long time in other industries before gravitating to the UAV space, others have spent most, if not all, of their adult lives working to get their dreams off the ground, literally and figuratively.
One company that fits the latter description was ideaForge, an India-based company that was borne out of an idea from the founders’ college days at IIT Bombay, originally dreaming of creating hovercrafts before shifting to the UAV space. They quickly saw utility for their vision, too, noting in the aftermath of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that the drone they were building would be much better, and more conspicuous, in the search effort than the helicopters being used.
Fast-forward to today, and ideaForge manufactures some of the top drones in a variety of classes, with their lightweight NINJA model, their “mapping maestro” RYNO model, and the SWITCH, which was the focal point of their booth in Las Vegas. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Ankit Mehta, took a few minutes of his time during the conference to talk with Commercial UAV News about the SWITCH and the company as a whole.
One thing that is immediately clear about ideaForge is the importance of reliability for their machines. Mehta calls it “the ideaForge Guarantee,” that when they say one of their drones will fly for up to 60 minutes, it will fly for at least 60 minutes. They have gotten by through erring on the side of conservatism, which has not held them back in the way of innovation. The SWITCH is a good example of this, as the drone they tab as an “all-terrain dominator” does just that. With an operational range up to 15 kilometers, a greater than two-hour flight time, a less than seven kilogram take-off weight, and the ability to fly through extreme weather conditions at all ends of the spectrum, the SWITCH has a variety of use cases.
Mehta talked a bit about what some of those use cases are, noting that the company’s main focus has been in the worlds of security and surveying. On the security front, the SWITCH is “standard issue for an Indian Army battalion.” These battalions are relying on these systems to offer protection, as well as "eyes ahead." Their ability to function through extreme weather makes for a perfect surveying tool, as well. The big advantage in introducing UAVs into the world of surveying in large part comes down to the ability to map lands that may not be safe for a human to survey in more traditional methods. This autonomous system adds to that by being able to fly safely through hot deserts all the way to snowy, mountainous terrains.
ideaForge is not a new company, but they are looking to make their mark in the North American market. If their showing at this year’s Commercial UAV Expo, displaying an impressive array of autonomous and reliable drones, is any indication, they’ll be a name to continue to watch.