Just a few days ago, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is adding new chapters such as information technology, artificial intelligence and robotics in technological warfare. He added that DRDO strives to prevent various present and future dangers in a very futuristic approach and the first of its kind. Last year, Ajay Kumar of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) told the media that the armed forces would soon have to migrate to 5G networks to effectively use unmanned vehicles and artificial intelligence.
New era technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, 5G and quantum computing have now penetrated all major sectors. If used correctly, they can be extremely powerful in transforming the performance of these sectors. These technologies can completely transform Indian defense capabilities. The armed forces are slowly but surely advancing and embarking on a new era of technological warfare.
Already integrating the technologies of the new era
- India does not want to be left behind by other nations when it comes to adopting new age technologies. He has already created the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR). It is a DRDO laboratory which works in the field of R&D in AI, robotics, information and communication security. He also set up a project called Energy Harvesting Based Infrared Sensor Network for Automated Human Intrusion Detection (EYESIRa) based in part on IoT mechanisms.
- Just a month ago, the Indian Army established the Quantum Lab at the Military College of Telecommunications with the support of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). At the same institution, he established the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) with support from industry and academia.
- Last year, during the e-symposium event organized by SAMDeS with FICCI, RKS Bhaduria, Chief Marshal of the IAF, mentioned the interest of the IAF in the integration of AI concepts for future combat operations.
How to move forward
In order to bring about a change in the functioning of the systems for the armed forces of the country, various measures can be taken. Some are:
- Effective use of Big Data with a strong focus on security
With huge amounts of data being generated, the right advanced analytics and algorithm tools can help armed forces with critical information. This information can be used to effectively make decisions for national safety and security – even vital predictions can be made from sensitive information. The armed forces must work on an organized and clear plan on how to manage and analyze data while ensuring that sensitive information for the nation remains protected.
- Unmanned Warfare Mechanisms
Autonomous and unmanned weapon systems used in surface, air and submarine warfare use AI. They can differentiate and destroy potential enemy points and targets, and these also have the ability to accumulate data and can act as centers for data collection and analysis, which can be used in military decision-making.
- Involve private actors
Effective private sector participation in the creation of software, products and algorithms for the armed forces can foster innovation and move India forward in the race to deploy advanced technologies. Indian startups are globally known for raising the standards of innovation, and the armed forces will be wise to utilize this potential of the country’s private players. In recent years, there has been a keen interest from private actors to also meet the needs of the armies.
- Last year, conversational AI startup Gnani.ai launched an integrated solution based on voice recognition for use in the armed forces. It is an end-to-end voice translation system that uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Machine Translation, and Text-to-Speech to convert Mandarin to English.
- Torus Robotics, a Chennai-based startup, is developing unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for the Indian military. These vehicles can be used as standoff robots.
- IdeaForge Technology, trained by IIT-Bombay alumni, has signed a Rs 130 crore deal with the Indian military to manufacture drones. It will supply the Indian Army with an “undisclosed quantity of a high-altitude variant of ideaForge’s Switch UAV”, the company said.
- The MoD created iDEX – to promote development in defense and aerospace. It aims to engage innovators and entrepreneurs to bring out technologically advanced solutions that will modernize the Indian military.
- Collaboration with academia
The IITs, NITs, IIScs and TIFRs are home to some of the best minds driving innovations that can revolutionize the technology landscape. The armed forces must tap into it to bring cutting-edge products out of the labs into real-world situations. A collaborative effort between the military, industry and academia is essential to integrate new capabilities into systems.