Drone-acharya giving Khelo India viewers next-- level sport experience in Pune
Founded in 2013, Quidich Innovation Labs claims to be India’s leading drone providing company with one of the largest drone fleets in the country. Quidich now provides drone services to a number of sporting tournaments across India, and at Khelo India 2019 their impact is yet to be gauged.
Akool Kumar, manager, operations at Quidich, brings experience from sporting events such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Hockey World Cup 2018 and various golf tournaments.
“We’ve come here with the best cinematographic drone that we have available. We have also carried 18 sets of batteries with us because we have to change them every 20 minutes. Once we are here, we have to set up our stations at a place where we have the advantage of height and also have the visibility of the drone at all times. After we identify our location, we rig the place with cables and set up our systems,” said Kumar.
However, the real humdinger that Quidich has at Khelo India is augmented reality (AR).
Kumar says, “Now we have started to zoom in to capture some of the action from the bird’s eye perspective. One of the major developments we’ve seen is the augmented reality (AR) bit. We may be the first company in the world to have AR on drones.”
Flying the drone also requires the use of multiple pilots. One pilot is solely responsible for navigation, while the other is in charge of the camera – ensuring it moves along with the particular event. The camera offers a 360-degree perspective and can operate in a direction opposite to the movement of the drone.
Specialised drone pilots operate the craft for Quidich. A DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) licence will also soon come into existence and ‘pilots’ will need to procure them in order to fly drones.
Explaining how the drone does not affect with the airport radars or aeronautical navigation, Kumar says, “There are clear no-fly zones which have been demarcated, so we don’t fly in these places and our drones are not even programmed to take off in those areas. If I’m standing less than 5 kilometres away from the airport, my drone won’t start as we have added system redundancies to ensure that at no point in time we are hampering the use of the commercial airlines.”
Currently, co-existing with the spider cam, can the drone make the spider cam obsolete? Kumar says, “What we are giving the viewer is a bird’s eye perspective – a shot of the entire stadium, something which spider cam (used extensively in the IPL) cannot give you. That’s restricted to inside the arena while we typically fly from outside the arena and establish the entire stadium with a view of the city.”
Then, again Quidich is using a single-access spider at the swimming pool. Explaining why another camera was brought in for the swimming, Kumar says, “The issue with the drones is that you can’t bring it close to people because there’s always that safety hazard. In an indoor sport like swimming, it’s not possible to fly these drones so if you want a top angle in indoor sports you go to something like a rope cam.”
Quidich’s drones are being used solely for track and field events at Khelo India 2019.