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Atoms and Bytes: Scaling heights

May 18, 2015

Atoms and Bytes, a start-up founded by a father-son duo in Chennai, is getting ready to build racing drones for the world.

CHENNAI: In Chennai, where flying drones without police permission could land one in trouble, a start-up founded by a father-son duo is getting ready to build racing drones for the world.

The start-up, Atoms and Bytes, soon to be renamed to Zuppa (pronounced 'super'), was founded in 2012 by Venkatesh Sai and his father Sai Pattabiram. This is a huge emerging market, says Mr. Venkatesh, a third-year engineering student at Loyola ICAM College of Engineering and Technology. Mr. Pattabiram has been a marketing professional for three decades.

They say they have already sold close to 150 drones till now, largely to defence units and for student projects. More importantly, they have also created Easypilot, with which a drone can be controlled easily.

According to 6Wresearch, India,s unmanned aerial vehicle (drones) market is anticipated to reach $421 million by 2021.

Right now, the firm sources parts from China, and designs and assembles the drones in Chennai. The 10-member team has a circuit design engineer, a program engineer and two engineers who assemble the products. The price of a drone could go up to Rs 4 lakh.

In two years, the firm hopes to be able to build 25,000-30,000 pieces of hardware and drones annually. The racing drones will be targeted at enthusiasts in the U.S. and Europe.

Atoms and Bytes started off using capital contributed by the duo's family members and also bank borrowings. In 2013, it got a grant from a Tamil Nadu government programme for innovations. Digital cinema solutions provider, Real Image Media Technologies, has provided Rs 12 lakh toward research and development. Its co-founder Senthil Kumar says this was to help them come out with a drone to carry a digital camera.

Mr. Venkatesh says his firm is also expecting a soft loan to the tune of Rs. 1 crore under another State government scheme.

Every purchase enquiry is fulfilled only after getting the person's ID proof, he says. "It's like purchasing a SIM card."

His father says, "Once we got a call from someone in Pakistan. But, we turned the offer down. We also had an enquiry from someone who claimed he is from the Army. I asked for the ID proof and he didn't turn up after that.”

Media Source: THE HINDU

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