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[[File:Netra - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - DRDO - Pride of India - Exhibition - 100th Indian Science Congress - Kolkata 2013-01-03 2574.JPG|300px|center|alt=]]
Netra, at the exhibition of 100th Indian Science Congress in Kolkata.[1]
Role Mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
National origin India
Manufacturer IdeaForge
Designer DRDO
First flight 3 July 2010
Introduction 30 January 2012
Status Active
Primary users Central Reserve Police Force
Border Security Force
Produced 2010-present
Number built 24[2]
Unit cost
INR2 million (US$32,000)[3] to INR5.5 million (US$88,000)[4]

The Netra is an Indian, light-weight, autonomous UAV for surveillance and reconnaissance operations.[2][5] It has been jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation's Research and Development Establishment (R&DE),[6] and IdeaForge, a Mumbai-based private firm.[3][7][8] The UAV was featured in the hit movie 3 Idiots.[9][10]

Design and development

The Netra is a lightweight UAV, constructed of carbon fiber composites, that uses quadcopters to provide lift and control giving a VTOL capability. It has no moving parts other than the rotors, motors and transmissions, and hence it requires very low maintenance. The use of carbon-fibre has resulted in a light weight of 1.5 kg (3 lb), which makes the Netra very portable.[11] A backpack case allows operators to carry the system to field locations to serve as the base station. It also contains the power supply, military-grade controller, hand-held operator console and the communication systems.[12][13]


Netra can be launched from a small clearing, and it can fly up to a distance of 2.5 km from its take-off point. The operational altitude of the UAV is 200 m. With an on-board wireless transmitter, it can carry out surveillance in an area of 1.5 km Line of Sight (LOS) at the height of 300 m, for 30 minutes on a single battery charge. It has a high resolution CCD camera with a pan/tilt and zoom to facilitate wider surveillance and can also carry a thermal camera for night operations. The zoom-in camera can identify human activity up to 500 m away, and can send live video feed of objects within a radius of 5 km.[3][14][15][16] The images are sent through a local wireless network to laptops for monitoring.[10]

Flight and navigation is independent of user-input, and is controlled by an on-board auto-pilot with the help of anti-collision sensors.[4] The user interface offers waypoint navigation, in which the user specifies the location of the target and the UAV automatically flies to that location. A built-in fail-safe allows it to return to base if there is loss of communication with the controller or if the battery is low in power. The UAV cannot yet operate in rain and further research is being done to make it operable in all weather conditions.[3][15][16][17]


10 prototypes were made during the development stage by DRDO and they were put under tests like the temperature tests (from -10 °C to 55 °C) and high-altitude tests. After the successful trials, the UAV was cleared for production and induction.[2][13][18] The development stage has been completed and Ideaforge is responsible for the production. The company has manufacturing capacity of 10 units per month. The base price of the UAV is Rs1.5-2 million, which can increase on purchase of additional components like a thermal camera.[3][12]

Further development

Ideaforge is also working on a more advanced version of Netra, which will have an increased flight time from the present 30 minute per battery charge.[2]


Netra has done well in the Indian market, with several central and state armed police forces procuring it, and more police units interested in its capability.[19] With the civilian use of UAVs gaining popularity in India, ideaForge has given about 200 demonstrations to prospective buyers.[7] The drone is designed to be used in hostage situations, border infiltration monitoring, law enforcement operations, search and rescue operations, disaster management and aerial photography. It can also be used in naxal-affected districts, in border locations across India for surveillance, and for anti-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations in dense forested areas, where it can use its camera payloads to track human activity.[20] It can also operate in urban quarters, in situations similar to that of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.[3][17]

It was deployed by the local law enforcement during a political rally in Chandigarh.[2][18] Gujarat Police purchased two systems at a unit price of 55 lakhs from IdeaForge. In July 2013 during the 136th Jagannath Rath Yatra, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to use UAVs for crowd management.[15] Three Netra UAVs were used in Uttarakhand by the NDRF for locating people during the 2013 North India floods.[20][21] It was Netra's first deployment in a disaster rescue operation. They were used in Badrinath and Kedarnath, where real-time monitoring of their video feed helped locate hundreds of survivors with precision.[10][22] The Indo-Tibetan Border Police also deployed the UAV on 24 June in remote locations like Kedarnath, Bhairav Chatti and Jungle Chatti to spot survivors.[23]



Data from IdeaForge product page

General characteristics

  • Crew: none
  • Payload: High resolution CCD camera (Thermal camera)
  • Length: 90 cm (2.95 ft)
  • Rotor diameter: 90 cm (2.95 ft)
  • Height: ()
  • Empty weight: 1.5 Kg (3.3 lbs)
  • Powerplant: 4 × External swappable Li-Po batteries, () each


  • Maximum speed: 30 km/hr[4]
  • Range: 2500 m[15] (8200 ft)
  • Service ceiling: 300 m[15] (985 ft)

See also


  1. "DRDO scores a ton at centenary Indian Science Congress". January 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "UAV inducted into counter-insurgency ops". 30 January 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "DRDO’s UAV Netra to aid in anti-terror operations". 3 July 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Gujarat Police uses Netra UAV to keep watch over Rath Yatra". 10 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Unmanned: The Future of Air Wars". SP's Aviation. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  6. "DRDO develops UAV 'Netra' to aid anti-terror operations". Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Drones set to crowd Indian skies". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  8. "DRDO develops UAV 'Netra' to aid anti-terror operations". 3 July 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  9. "Movie UAV to nab rebels". March 2012. p. 84. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Three UAVs deployed in Uttarakhand rescue operations". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 June 2013. 
  11. "Unmanned aerial vehicle Netra a part of anti-insurgency operations". Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Gupta Ray, Shashwat. "UAV Netra gets into production". Sakaal Times. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "UAV inducted into counter-insurgency operations". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  14. "DRDO develops UAV ‘Netra’ to aid anti-terrorist operations". Chennai, India. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 "Gujarat bets on indigenous UAVs to keep surveillance & help in public security". 7 July 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 "Homeland Security turns to unmanned Systems in India. DRDO’s Netra gains popularity in paramilitary forces". India Strategic. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "DRDO develops UAV 'Netra' to aid in anti-terrorist operations". The Economic Times. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Kulkarni, Pranav (27 Apr 2011). "Trials successful, Netra to enter production stage". Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Aviation assets for India's paramilitary forces". 23 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Dighi defence setup to lead robotics project". 5 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  21. "How Netra UAVs helped Indian disaster relief effort". 5 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Tiwary, Deeptimaan (25 June 2013). "To spot missing survivors, 3 UAVs overfly Kedarnath". The Times Of India. 
  23. "UAVs look for survivors as new landslides, rain hamper rescue". 25 June 2013. 
  24. "University students build QuadCopter". 13 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  25. "Raj Thackeray’s mega rally: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle kept an eye on Azad Maidan". Mumbai Mirror. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  26. "R&DE’s UAV Netra watching over Rath Yatra". 11 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 

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