IIT Madras CFI Students Enthral Businesses, Industries With Cutting-Edge Technologies And Innovations

CFI Open House 2019 witnessed various student teams that had won international acclaim, demonstrating their projects and their impact on the society.

Drones developed by the Aero Modelling and Aerial Robotics Club of CFI, IIT Madras, being demonstrated during CFI Open House 2019.
Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-M, trying out the ‘DbyT Dynamics’ E-Bike during CFI Open House 2019.
Team Abhiyaan explains their Autonomous Ground Vehicle during CFI Open House 2019.
Team Anveshak explains their Mars Rover during CFI Open House 2019.
A child tries out the Formula Race Car developed by Raftar Formula Racing Team of CFI, IIT Madras, during CFI Open House 2019.

IIT Madras students from the Centre for Innovation (CFI) showcased some of their cutting-edge innovations and technologies to the public recently during CFI Open House 2019. 

The CFI Open House is an annual event showcasing the recent work and achievements of student innovators as well as providing an opportunity for their projects to be displayed on a large scale, leading to implementation.

From formula cars, drones to next-generation technologies such as ‘Hyperloop,’ several competition teams and clubs that have won international acclaim not only displayed their products but also demonstrated them to the public during this annual flagship event of CFI.

CFI has produced teams that have made waves globally. CFI team Avishkar Hyperloop was the only team from Asia to be among the top 22 teams, shortlisted from over 1,600 entries worldwide, to qualify for the finals of 2019 Hyperloop Pod Competition organized by SpaceX. CFI Team Raftar Formula Racing was the only Indian Team that qualified for Formula Student Germany 2018. 

Highlighting the importance of CFI, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Centre For Innovation (CFI) at IIT Madras has become the hub of self-actuated student innovation activities at the Institute. Right from the time freshers join the Institute, those with a desire to build and make are provided the ambience and the mentoring by seniors to get their feet wet.”

“Many go on to build fantastic machines, algorithms and devices, and some of these efforts have morphed into startups. IIT Madras Teams participate in and win at many international car, robotics, and other such competitions. The annual CFI Open House gives an opportunity for the community, particularly school children, to see the latest projects undertaken, and derive inspiration from them,” he added.

A completely student-run platform, CFI was set up with a vision to encourage engineers to apply knowledge from their academic pursuits to ‘innovate’ and propose solutions to real-world problems. Almost a decade since its inception, CFI is now home to ten clubs and four competition teams with over 600 students involved in activities over the year.

Speaking about the work that goes on at CFI, Boby George, Faculty Advisor, CFI-IIT Madras, said, “The innovation that emerges from CFI is pure magic. Magic because these fantastic ideas are born only out of passion, of a diverse group of enthusiastic young minds, to come together for a common goal. The goal to better the world we live in using the amazing power of technology responsibly.”

Since its inception, CFI has augmented the ‘tech’ space in the institute. CFI Projects have gone on to produce high-profile startups and internationally acclaimed competition teams apart from bagging laurels at national and international levels. Driven by passion and fuelled by enthusiasm, CFI aims to kindle the spirit of inquiry and foster the spirit of engineering not just in IIT Madras but also in other institutes via mentorship.

Four competition teams have represented IIT Madras and the country in international competitions - Raftar Formula Racing, Anveshak (University Rover Challenge), Abhiyaan (Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition) and Avishkar Hyperloop (SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition).

Highlighting the impact CFI Teams have had, Akash Anandan, Student Executive Head, CFI, IIT Madras, said, “Multiple innovations from the CFI community have been accepted and lauded by Government Agencies and private industries/businesses for having tremendous potential to improve lives.”

“To name a few, the project ‘Eye in the Sky’ leverages autonomous drone usage to help relief and post-disaster surveillance, helping first responders. Another project in the field of computer Vision ‘Textile Quality Analysis’ involves estimating the quality of fabric/textile using images captured from the camera. Autonomous Driving in a Simulated Environment, Text to Braille Converter, Agricopter, Computer Vision for the Traffic Management, Powered Exoskeleton, and I.O.T. for Air Quality Measurement are among other highlights of this year,” he added.

To strengthen the innovation ecosystem within the campus, CFI ensures that a pipeline of potential incubatees is created through a body called ‘Nirmaan,’ which seeks out students with ideas that have commercial potential and puts them through a one-year programme to refine the ideas, develop products, and formulate business plans.

Nirmaan is a program structured for students who come up with an idea and wish to create a start-up. It empowers teams with everything they need to convert their idea into an incubated startup, preparing projects to become a company by helping them in the startup process, design and prototype the product. It is a pre-incubator, where ideas mature towards incubation.

Some of the projects demonstrated during CFI Open House 2019 include:

  • Autonomous Driving in a Simulated Environment: The objective is to use a simulated environment to train an agent (a car) to navigate through complex traffic scenarios including dealing with crossings without signals, random pedestrians, slow-moving cars and traffic rule breakers. The images are first segmented to extract information on the lanes, signals and other cars, along with depth information. Following this, control algorithms are used to maintain the car's position in the lane, identify intersections and perform lane changes. 
  • Hate Speech Detection: Extracting data from popular social media sites and perform sentiment and statistical analysis on the same to obtain the overall Sentiment and Temperament regarding a particular keyword or tweet. And further enhancing the solution with hate speech detection. 
  • Text-to-Braille Converter: Around 285 Million people worldwide are visually impaired or Sighted. Existing digital Braille reading devices are bulky and expensive – only 5% of visually impaired people own one. Also, only 3% of all text content is available in Braille. The major impetus of this CFI project is to provide a viable solution for these hitches and to improve and to economize the existing solutions. The team has engineered a portable Text-to-Braille Interactive Device

Since its inception in 2016, Nirmaan has brought out many stellar start-ups into the world market. This year three project teams from CFI- Agricopter, UAVs for Disaster Management and Dbyt Dynamics have been inducted into Nirmaan.

The Centre for Innovation (CFI) has been the source of ideas that have gone on to become successful startups. Some such startups that came from CFI include:

  1. Ather Energy: It is a start-up building India's first Smart Electric Scooter, the S340. The Ather S340 has a touch screen dashboard connected to the cloud, host of smart features and offers a top speed of 72 kmph. The scooter is designed in-house by Ather and will be manufactured in India.
  2. LeanAgri: It is developing a unique algorithm named LeanNutri that provides a season-long calendar for the farmer. This calendar is personalized after collecting 20+ parameters from the farm. The calendar specifies step by step action to be taken by farmer based on scientific principles in order to increase farm yields and incomes. 
  3. HyperVerge Inc: It is a Silicon Valley based deep-learning start-up funded by NEA, Millyways Ventures and Naya Ventures. HyperVerge has developed patent-pending technology for real-time analysis of images and videos obtained from satellite images, CCTV feeds, documents & industries.
  4. Foldable House: A house which can be folded and taken anywhere. The simple and novel design makes the foldable house a great fit in many markets where instant housing is required. When used at its fullest potential can cater to huge markets like construction, defence, and military and refugee housing.
  5. Planys Technologies: It provides submersible robotic inspection and survey solutions using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Planys brings world class technology and cutting-edge innovations in underwater robotics and diagnostics in the shallow-mid depth segment. Planys’ technology spans the domains of marine robotics, advanced Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE), and post-inspection analysis.
  6. Airwood: It is a full-stack agri production management and data sciences company. Airwood helps farmers, FPOs, aggregators and agri-entrepreneurs realize the full potential of their farms. They work towards creating solutions meant for uplifting farmers and farming as a whole, and profit from the performance and financials of the farm.
  7. Lema Labs: It strives to build an ecosystem for emerging technologies by providing support to stakeholders which includes student community, educational institutions and the industry.

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