Robotics and Artificial Intelligence till now have been used mainly for commercial work and yet to dominate defence sector in India. There is a huge potential in this segment and newly formed Task-Force on Artificial Intelligence by Indian government is a step towards economic transformation. 

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is combination of technology and cognitive intelligence for simulation, processing of information and knowledge to build capability in a machine to imitate human behaviour. It is a transformative technology that has tremendous applications in the social, economic and military fields. Till some time back we had robots operated by a human or through a set of programming to perform repetitive task. The technology is already present in many sectors of economy, such as mapping technologies, hand writing recognition for mail delivery, financial trading, surveillance, target acquisition, smart vehicles, ammunition, robots performing numerous industrial, medical and military tasks. Some of the common functions performed as on date are:-

  • Pizza delivery Drones
  • Play stations game
  • Self driven cars
  • Food served by robots in restaurants.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Unmanned Petrol Pumps
  • Unmanned Sea Vehicles,
  • Robots undertaking industrial activities
  • Complex issues like surgery in hospitals.

Looking at its indispensable use and growing need, Indian Commerce and Industry has recently constituted a Task Force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for India's economic transformation.


Robotics in Defence

The development in defence technology and the geo-political environments necessitates increased defence spending year by year due to the requirement for weapons and arms. However, the recent trend to replace the convention equipment by robots smart and intelligent machines that learns by observation, trial and error to enhance operational efficiency, are providing cost effective alternative.

AI can provide multiple options for military applications for a strategic, operational and tactical level planning in many of the functions (Refer Fig-Functions):

            The beginning has been made with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS) guided bomb and missile systems, increasing ranges and accuracy of the smart ammunition etc. are increasingly preferred. Indian defence services are presently using indigenously designed Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Daksh for Bomb Disposal, Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (Netra UAV, Rustom, Searcher etc.) for reconnaissance, other mini robot machines.

Indian Army has placed the order for 200 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Daksh robots to defuse explosives. Additionally, DAC has approved approx. 544 Robots for Indian Army from indigenous source. The robots will be used for surveillance and can deliver suitable ammunition


Emerging Trend in AI

The next level would be the Robotics with Artificial Intelligence. The future war systems could be dominated by unmanned systems. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics shall have the following applications:-

  • Image interpretation for target identification and classification.
  • Expert systems for diagnosis and maintenance of sophisticated weapon systems such as radars and missiles.
  • Robotic equipment can be used to provide precision targeting support and carriage of ammunition and accuracy.
  • Camera equipped and shock-resistant platforms to provide fire power remotely are also possible applications.
  • Systems for diagnosis and maintenance of sophisticated weapon systems.
  • Missile target range and trajectory analysis for evaluation of kill zones, launch time and simulation to assist in qualifying missile performance in various environments.
  • Enhanced use of robots for Anti Improvised Explosive Device, extraction of personnel, firing of guns and other applications.

Private sector  

Robotics and Artificial intelligence in defence can be a new potential sector for the private players. Till now private sector have been focused primarily in making Robots for consumer goods market. Making products for the defence can also have a dual use.There are organization into making Robots of various kind, some of these are  TAL manufacturing solution limited, PARI Robotics, Hi-Tech Robotics, KUKA Robotics, Robosoft Systems, Serial Innovations, Fanuc Corporation, Idea Forge amongst others.

Additionally, there are some foreign companies who are in development of this technology. Some specific examples being:-

  • Uran-9, atracked armored vehicle controlled remotely by an operator equipped with 2A72 30-millimeter cannon with a rate of fire of 350 to 400 rounds per minute and can shoot high explosive incendiary and armor-piercing ammunition.
  • The Kalashnikov is likely to begin serial production of a new combat module using NeuroNet by next year. 'NeuroNet' is an artificial neural network, which allows the module to identify targets, learn and make decisions on its own.
  • A Swedish Maritime Robotics Center is developing the underwater systems of tomorrow.

Wrapping up

Adopting the latest technology can offer huge benefits in combat and defence. Artificial intelligence technology helping equipment to work smart through experiences. On the flip side, Technology can be a serious threat many a times, as machines are not smart enough to differentiate between good or bad. They will cut the manpower and the way we work, making us sluggish and over dependent on them. Additionally, it cannot fight the situation which is new and has no experience. Recently, there was a  request to United Nation to cancel permission to use 'killer robot' called as 'Pandora Box'. It can be used to conduct warfare bin future by using artificial intelligence. Once the 'Pandora Box' is opened or activated it cannot be controlled or deactivated easily. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. They will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at times scales faster than humans can comprehend.


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