Artificial Intelligence in Military: How India Readies for Future Warfare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has impacted the world with numerous applications which are affecting numerous spheres allowing openings in various fields of the scientific environment. There are many definitions, a simple one is, “AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term also may be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving.”

A few areas where current research in AI has brought new products are smartphones, unmanned aerial systems (commonly referred to as Drones), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), unmanned ships, under water vehicles, audio printing, usage of robots in restaurants, hotels, schools, gas stations and the armed forces. The remote of the television screen is also an AI device that is universally used by all viewers.

Current Perspective

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has a specialised laboratory, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) with about 150 scientists which focus on AI Robotics, Control Systems, Command Control Communications and Intelligence (C3I), Networking and Communications Secrecy. They have produced a family of robots for surveillance and reconnaissance applications.

The robot has been named RoboSen a mobile robot for reconnaissance and surveillance. Further, a miniaturised man-portable UGV for low-intensity conflicts, a wall climbing flapping-wing robot and a walking robot with four and six legs for logistics support. They have also developed robots with cognitive capabilities which can play Chess and inspect the serviceability of components. Further, intelligent wheelchairs have been developed for physically challenged persons. CAIR has also developed a NetWork Traffic Analysis (NETRA) which can monitor internet traffic. This device can intercept keywords such as bomb blast, kill and other designated words in real-time.

AI has also been focused upon by the Union Government and in this context, a report was submitted by N Chandrasekaran, Chairman Tata Sons, in 2018 to the Ministry of Defence. Based on the recommendations of a Task Force, the Department of Defence Production issued a Government Order on 8 February 2019 that listed the following:

  • Defence AI Council (DAIC) was constituted with Defence Minister as Chairman. It included the three Service Chiefs, the Secretary of Defence; Defence Production; DRDO, Financial Adviser Defence Services, National Cyber Security Coordinator and eminent representatives from industry and academia. The Council would meet twice a year to provide strategic direction towards AI-driven transformation in defence, provide guidance in addressing issues related to data sharing; enable strategic partnership with industry, decide acquisitions of technology; review ethical, safe and privacy assured usage of AI in defence. Further, evolve policies in partnership with government institution and industries.
  • A Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA) will also be established with Secretary Defence Production as the Chairman. The other members will be from the Service Headquarters, Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, Defence Public Sector units, DRDO, industry and academia. 
  • Each Service Headquarters has been directed to earmark Rs 100 crores for AI-specific application development for the next five years 
  • The Indian Navy has taken the lead and has divided AI usage into short, medium and long term goals for implementation.

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Bharat Shakti
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