‘The Drone Boy’ Prathap: Reality Check

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Are claims about DRDO appointment and global awards for ‘Drone Boy’ Prathap Authentic?

A youngster from Karnataka called Prathap, has witnessed popularity and reputation on the social media platforms as the builder of drones and popularly titled as ‘Drone Boy.’

The recent viral post about him claims that the 22-year old Prathap has been appointed as the scientist in Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This post also lists his significant international achievements.

Prathap’s appointment as DRDO scientist

There is a video posted by Prathap on Youtube where the 22-year-old revealed and clarified that he had not been appointed as the DRDO scientist.

He clarified that the controversy of his appointment at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) by PM Narendra Modi was fake news.

Achievements of the ‘Drone Boy’

The detailed internet researches on the ‘Drone Boy’ don’t lead to provide us any concrete proves of his achievements and success story. We could only find some of the interviews he gave to the Kannada News Channels. In one such interview video, there were prominent political leaders such as B.S Yediyurappa, H.D Kumaraswamy, and celebrities congratulated Prathap on his achievements. 

Prathap has also received an award from TV9 Kannada for his achievement in multi-drone research. His Instagram handle has many pictures of him of political leaders and celebrities. But the authenticity of the photos is still under questions.

Prathap, who build 600 drones!

Another claim was that Prathap has built over 600 drones, but there is no picture or video on the internet of a drone built by him.

However, there are pictures of him in which he can be seen standing next to standing some drones, but these have been found to be built by reputed drone companies and not by him. The photo in the viral DRDO post shows Prathap standing next to a drone by Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd.

A user posted an email response from the company when they were asked about the Prathap’s connection with the drone. From the email response, it is clear that Prathap has no connection with the company and drone. Also, the remote control of the drone Prathap used during the Karnataka floods looks similar to the YUNEEC ST16S Ground Remote Transmitter for Typhoon H+ drone remote. According to the post, one of his major achievements was based on East to Japan. He has said to have won the first prize in an expo at Tokyo, a certificate related tot his prize can be seen on multiple news blogs.

The certificate states that the award was won at the IREX 2017 Exhibition. But the IREX 2017 was a trade expo were various companies exhibited their robots. The organizers of the expo released the post-show report after the event, but there was no such competition mentioned in the report. Also, there is no mention of the Airbus company whose name can be found on Prathap’s certificate.

The viral post talks about his hourly commute to the venue. It says he did not take the bullet train to the exhibition venue as it was expensive, and he has 1400 INR with him, so he took the regular train and changed for 16 different stations and walked the last 8km of the way.

However, the google map shows that the exhibition’s location is just 15kms from Haneda and 65kms from Narida, Tokyo’s two international airports. Also, there is no need to board a bullet train to reach the exhibition, as the bullet train is the inter-city service. Unless Prathap landed a different city in Japan and wanted to come to Tokyo, he would not have needed to board a bullet train.

Now from the West to Germany, there are his other stated achievements. There is no evidence that Prathap won the Albert Einstein Innovation Medal at the CBID Drone Expo 2018 in Germany. When you search about the award, you could only find the articles related to Prathap and not to the award in the search results. The same certificate has written Albert Einstein Innovation Medal at one place and Albert Einstein Innovation Award at another in the certificate. Also, the certificate was signed by the Wolfram von Fritsch as the CEO OF Deutsche Messe company, but Wolfram von Fritsch handed over his responsibilities to Dr. Jochen Köckler in 2017. At the same time, Prathap won the award in 2018. 

Also, the organizers of the event told the BetterIndia that they did not give out any such award.

The questions raised to Prathap and his answer!

On 15 June 2020, he made a public appearance on a Kannada news channel Btv News and answered the question that he has enough evidence to prove his international achievements to be genuine but showed the same certificates we talked about above. He said that these are authentic and didn’t provide any other additional pieces of evidence to prove authenticity. On another question about the absence of his drones’ photo in the public domain, he just showed a picture on his mobile phone and claimed that he built it.

He added that he won an award for building this drone. But the photo is already in the public domain, as seen in a post by Better India. For authenticity, besides the drone in this photo, there is a paper that prints BillzEye and found that it is a German company that specializes in multi-copter systems. BillzEye shared video visuals that are similar to Prathap’s photo. The description of the video states that the video is of the CBID Drone Expo 2018 in Germany. The same place where Prathap achieved the Albert Einstein Innovation Medal2018. However, the company has nowhere mentioned that Prathap built any of the drones. But in the interview with Btv News, he said that he builds this drone showing the same picture.

Therefore, if Prathap can provide more evidence to prove the credibility of his achievements, it is more a social media powered myth ‘ Drone Boy’ and not an authentic fact.

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