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In January 2019, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), a DRDO laboratory, initiated a project to develop AI-based solutions for signal intelligence which will help to enhance intelligence, collation and analysis capabilities for the armed forces. The AI-based tools used in the development of the project will help the defence forces constructively in areas such as decision support, sensor data analysis, predictive maintenance, situational awareness, accurate data extraction, and security.
Energy Harvesting-based Infrared Sensor Network for Automated Human Intrusion Detection (EYESIRa) is a project powered by AI and IoT for detecting human intrusion on borders by armed forces. The project is undisclosed and confidential. In January 2019, the project was sanctioned a budget of ₹1.8 crore.
In December 2018, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) announced the development of first responder robot which aims at securing Indian borders. Researchers are currently putting together preliminary requirements for design and implementation of the project. Partnering companies have also conducted several training programs to build competency in AI.
In May 2019, BEL signed an MoU with the Ministry of Defence, where BEL will invest ₹40-50 crore per annum on AI-related projects over the next three years (2019-2022).
Currently, BEL is working on five major projects involving AI which include:
Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) started as a pilot program focused on electronic surveillance system. The project was initiated in July 2018 and is integrated with AI-enabled image recognition and automated alerts that will help the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel with spotting intruders if they try to enter the Indian territory. The system will be implemented on 2,000 km-long sensitive stretch along the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The project has been completed in parts for the India-Pakistan border in Jammu and some other areas, while it is still in progress for the border areas adjoining Bangladesh.
Rustom 2 UAV is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry different combinations of payloads like synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems, and situational awareness payloads. It is developed for the requirements of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and is developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and Bharat Electronics Limited. DRDO is also developing Multi Agent Robotics Framework, which is a system that will enable the Indian Army’s battlefield robots to collaborate with each other on surveillance and reconnaissance. It is also developing Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNe) UAVs to detect radiation, as well as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for surveillance and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) disposal. In February 2018, Rustom 2 UAV was successfully tested by DRDO.
In April 2018, Mahindra Defense partnered with Israeli drone-maker Aeronautics Ltd. to build unmanned underwater vehicles for the Indian Navy. Aeronautic Ltd. will offer maritime version of Orbiter 4 to the Indian Navy, which is an advanced multi-mission platform with an ability to carry and operate two different payloads simultaneously. The shipborne UAV will carry state of the art sensor payloads and will be capable of being launched and recovered from small warships that do not have a helicopter deck such as small warships which are around 50 m in length.
CRON Systems, a New Delhi-based AI startup, using data mining capabilities has evaluated seasonal data for border infiltration patterns. The company’s product line can algorithmically ascertain the possibility of border infiltrations at certain times. The KV product line offered by the company is powered by infrared and laser which offers all terrain all weather breach notification and has been implemented in the Indo-Pak border.
The Indian Government and Innefu Labs signed a contract to analyze data obtained from intelligence agencies to evaluate threat patterns and predict future outcomes. The company partnered with Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to track social media posts for forecasting the location and time of agitations so as to deploy appropriate personnel.
In the Interim Budget of the financial year 2019-20, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was allocated ₹10,484 crore for R&D. Also, the government allocated ₹95 crore towards Make-I and Make-II category projects.
The Ministry of Defence instituted a Defence grant-in-aid scheme in April 1969 to utilize the research talent and facilities in IITs, universities, higher technological institutes, engineering colleges, and service training schools.
The scheme allows grants to scientists of standing attached to an approved research institution, university or college, department or laboratory, further attached to a reputed industrial firm. DRDO receives funds from the ministry and disburses it to seven research boards, namely Aeronautical Development Agency, Aeronautics Research and Development Board, Naval Research Board, Armament Research Board, Life Sciences Research Board, Directorate of Extramural Research and Intellectual Property Rights, and others. Directorate of Budget Finance and Accounts allocates the budget to all the research boards which is further allotted to grantee institutes.