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‘Drone boy’ Prathap has not been appointed as a scientist in DRDO by PM Modi

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A post is being shared widely on social media with a claim that 22-year-old ‘Drone boy’ Prathap has been appointed as a scientist in DRDO  by PM Modi. A short story regarding his achievements can be also seen in the post. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

The archived version of the post can be seen here.   

Claim: PM Modi has appointed ‘Drone boy’ Pratap as a scientist in DRDO.

Fact: In a video message, Pratap has himself clarified that he has not been appointed as a scientist in DRDO by PM Modi. Also, there is no concrete evidence to most of his achievements being shared on social media. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.

When searched about his appointment as a scientist in DRDO, a video message by Prathap was found on YouTube. In the video, Prathap has himself clarified he has not been appointed as a scientist in DRDO by PM Modi. The same has also been confirmed by him in conversation with ‘Boom Live’. On the DRDO website, it can be found that, for a post of Scientist ‘B’, the required qualification is ‘At least First Class Master’s degree in Science Subjects, Mathematics or Psychology or First Class Degree in Engineering or Technology or Metallurgy from a recognized University or Equivalent.’

Media and Celebrities:

When searched about other things mentioned in the post regarding Pratap, it was found that there is no concrete evidence to most of his achievements being shared on social media. But he was interviewed previously by various Kannada channels including ‘DD Chandana’ (video is not available now) for his achievements. Also, in one such video by ‘Dighvijay 24X7 News’, it can be seen that B. S. Yediyurappa, H. D. Kumaraswamy (then CM of Karnataka) and other celebrities have wished Pratap on his achievements. He has also received an award from ‘TV9 Kannada’ for his achievement in Multi-Drone Research. Many other photos of Pratap with various political leaders and celebrities can be seen on an Instagram profile with the name ‘droneprathap’ (FACTLY could not confirm the authenticity of the profile and photos).

Photos with Drones:

While it is being claimed that he has built over 600 drones, there is no picture or video on the internet of a drone built by him. There are some photos of him standing next to some drones, but they are built by reputed drone companies, not by him. In the photo given in the post, Pratap can be seen standing next to a drone which belongs to ‘ACSL’ (Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd) company. A Reddit user has posted an email response from ‘ACSL’ when they were asked about Pratap’s connection with the drone. From the email response, it is clear that Pratap has no connection with the company or drone.

Also, the remote of the drone used by Prathap during the Karnataka floods looks similar to ‘YUNEEC Typhoon H+’ drone remote.

Young Scientist Award – ‘iREX 2017’ – Japan:

In the post, it is mentioned that he won the first prize at an expo in Tokyo. A certificate related to that prize can be found on multiple news blog websites. On the certificate, it is written that the award was won at the ‘iREX 2017’ exhibition. But, ‘iREX 2017’ is a trade expo where various companies exhibit their robots. There is no official record of any such competition and Pratap winning the competition at the expo. The organizers of the expo released a ‘Post Show Report’ after the 2017 event but there is no mention of the competition in the report. Also, there is no mention of the ‘Airbus Defence and Space’ company, whose name can be found on the Pratap’s certificate.

Albert Einstein Innovation Medal – ‘CeBIT 2018’ – Germany

There is no evidence to the claim that he won ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Medal’ at ‘CeBIT Drone Expo 2018’ in Germany. When searched about that award, only articles related to Pratap can be found in the search results. On the certificate, it can be seen that it is written as ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Medal’ on the top whereas it is written as ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Award’ below. Also, on the certificate, the name of ‘Deutsche Messe’ company CEO is given as ‘Wolfram von Fritsch’. But, Wolfram von Fritsch has handed over his leadership role to Dr. Jochen Köckler back in 2017 itself. Still, the certificate awarded to Pratap in 2018 has Wolfram von Fritsch’s name as CEO. Also, responding to ‘The Better India’, the organizers of the events in Germany have said that they did not host any such award.

Japan visit and Bullet Train:

In the post, regarding Pratap’s visit to Tokyo to participate in ‘iREX 2017’, it is mentioned that ‘somehow he reached Tokyo after going in his maiden flight to Japan all alone. He had only Rs 1400 when he landed there. He didn’t take the Bullet train since it was very expensive, so he went by normal train by changing trains at 16 different stations with his luggage to reach his last station. He walked another 8 km to reach the ultimate destination with his luggage.’ But, from Google Maps, it can be found that the exhibition’s location (‘Tokyo Big Sight’) is just 15 km (from Haneda International Airport) and 65 km (from Narita International Airport) from Tokyo’s two international airports. There is no need to board on a bullet train to reach the exhibition and also, the bullet train is an intercity service. Unless Prathap landed at a different city in Japan and wanted to come to Tokyo, there is no actual need to board a bullet train. 

The ’OpIndia’ has previously published an article debunking the claims of Prathap. But, talking to Kannada media, Prathap has said that he has enough evidence to prove that his awards are genuine and he will be holding a press meet in coming days to provide the evidence. FACTLY has also tried to contact Prathap for clarification on the issue but there was no response. This article will be updated upon receiving a response from him.

To sum it up, ‘Drone boy’ Prathap has not been appointed as a scientist in DRDO by PM Modi. Also, there is no concrete evidence to most of his achievements being shared on social media.

Update (17 July 2020):

As on 16 June 2020, Prathap has not replied to FACTLY but came appeared on ‘Btv News Kannada’ channel to answer questions raised by one and all over his international achievements. In this program, he just showed his certificates and claimed that they are authentic. He did not provide any additional evidence to prove their authenticity. But, as an answer to a question regarding the absence of his drone photos in the public domain, Prathap showed a drone photo on his mobile, claiming that it was built by him. He said, ‘Today, I am going to show one of my drones’, showing the photo to the audience. He has also said that he has won the award for this same drone.

But the same photo is already in the public domain. The photo can be found in an article published by ‘The Better India’ on Prathap in January 2020.

However, just beside the drone, there is a paper with the name – ‘BillzEye’. So, when we searched for that name, it was found that the ‘BillzEye’ is a German company which specializes in multicopter systems.

The ‘BillzEye’ has posted a video with similar visuals as seen in Prathap’s photo on their Facebook account. In the description of the video, it can be seen that the visuals are related to ‘CeBIT’ event at Hanover (Germany). This is the same event where Prathap has claimed that he has won the ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Medal’ in 2018. So, in the interview, he was referring to ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Medal’ when he said he won the award for the drone shown in the photo. But, ‘BillzEye’ has not mentioned Prathap’s name or regarding the award anywhere. Some users have also posted the image of the same drone showcased at ‘CeBIT2018’. Those posts can be seen here, here and here.

Other pictures of the same red drone and some components placed on the table in Prathap’s photo can be also found on the ‘BillzEye’ website. The name of the drone is mentioned as ‘Thermographic copter BETH-001’ on the website. The headset on the table has ‘FAT SHARK’ name on it. It was found that the ‘FAT SHARK’ company produces ‘FPV’ (First-person view) goggles for drone pilots.

On their website and Facebook page, ‘BillzEye’ has mentioned that they are official members of ‘BVCP’ (Bundesverband Copter Piloten e.V.). The same name and logo can be seen on the wall behind Prathap in the photo.

It is in the ‘BVCP’ stall at ‘CeBIT2018’ where ‘BillzEye’ showcased the drone. On the ‘BVCP’ website, an article with the heading ‘Impressions of CEBIT 2018’ (translated by Google from German) can be found. The name of the ‘BillzEye’ owner, Bill Gutbier, is mentioned along with some other names in the article but Prathap’s name is not mentioned anywhere. Also, nothing was mentioned about the drone in the photo winning an award at the event. Prathap was not found in any of the photos posted in the article.

Assuming Prathap is part of the ‘BillzEye’ team and really won the (not yet authenticated) ‘Albert Einstein Innovation Medal’ for the drone, then Prathap’s designation in ‘BillzEye’ company should have been mentioned on the certificate, not his college name. But it can be seen that his college name is mentioned on Prathap’s certificate and there is no mention of ‘BillzEye’ at all. FACTLY has tried to contact ‘BillzEye’ for clarification and this article will be updated when a response is received.

Update 2 (17 July 2020):

In reply to multiple requests, ‘BillzEye’ has issued a statement on the issue. They have clarified that the drone in the photo, which Pratap claimed to be his drone, is the property of “BillzEye – Multicoptersysteme” and Prathap has nothing to do with the design, development, manufacture or distribution of the drone. They said, ‘Mr. Prathap had only taken a photo at CEBIT 2018 in Hanover. If He says otherwise, it is a lie!‘ (translated by Google from German). So, it has been confirmed that Prathap has lied on television that the drone next to him in the photo is his drone and he won an award for it.

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