The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics of the DRDO works in different areas in information and communication technology for solutions for Defence problems.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have stretched their tentacles to warfare. They work faster, because of shorter reaction time. They are versatile and can carry out diverse functions starting from that of faithful sentries. They never get tired. Unmanned aircraft save pilots from risky sorties.
But the military application of AI and robotics raises controversies on ethical grounds:
Using AI for non-human combatants is immoral.
Robots cannot tell a friend from a foe. Innocents may be fired.
Nations may become trigger-happy, since they can operate with minimum risk to the operator.
They may promote a technological arms race.
Wars will occur more readily.
The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, a voluntary group, campaigns against AI in war. Jody Williams, a human rights crusader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, seeks a ban on killer robots.
Be that as it may, no country can rule out the use of AI and robotics in modern times when enemy strategists plan to deploy such devices.
India has a military research organisation that specialises in this area, under the control of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO): The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), DRDO Complex, C.V. Raman Nagar, Bangalore – 560 093;
Website: http:// drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs/ CAIR/English/index.jsp? pg=homebody.jsp.
CAIR, which was established in 1986, is the premier systems laboratory of the DRDO for research and development in different areas in information and communication technology for solutions for Defence problems. It collaborates with the departments of the Union government and various institutions engaged in scientific research.
The centre studies, develops and delivers systems, solutions and services in the areas of tactical communication, Net-centric warfare, information security, communication security, artificial intelligence and robotics.
CAIR has the commendable dream of providing technological supremacy to our Defence forces through nurturing excellence in information technologies. As part of achieving this objective, it maintains continuing interactions with industry and other centres of research, both within and outside the DRDO. Purely academic centres such as university research departments with broad objectives have their own points of strength that could be gainfully utilised by centres such as CAIR.
Rigorous discipline of the centre helps in completing projects on time without giving room for cost escalation. Involving customer units during product development ensures avoidance of waste. Developing the most appropriate technologies for each application is another element of quality assurance. One cardinal strategy that helps the centre is the encouragement given to the bright minds leading to innovative results of quality.
Areas of work
The centre focusses on research relating to information and communication systems and security solutions.
Some of the areas of concern are tactical communication, secrecy in communication and information security.
Innovative studies in intelligent systems are vital to Defence security. Significant research studies in this regard have to touch on areas such as ad hoc networks, artificial intelligence, artificial neural networks, computer vision, the Geographical Information System, network management systems, robotics, signal processing and situational awareness.
Fruits of research
A number of products and technologies have been developed by CAIR through systematic studies and research, some of which are indicated below. The variety of products bears testimony to the range and diversity of the research work.
Artillery Combat Command and Control System
Command Information and Decision Support System: facilitates storage, retrieval, processing (filtering, correlation, fusion) and visualisation of tactical data and provides effective decision support to the commanders.
Air Defence Control and Reporting System: detects all aerial targets and neutralises the threat well away from the vulnerable area and vulnerable point (VA/VP) by effective integration of all weapon systems.
Battlefield Management System: provides situational awareness and net- centric operational capability to commanders.
Robots for non-destructive testing of composite parts of light combat aircraft.
The way ahead
CAIR has on its anvil a variety of products for which work is being carried out. Even in the case of products already developed, there will be efforts for improvement. Some of such areas are given below.
An indigenous Geographic Information System (GIS) kernel that provides a platform for development of display, analysis and decision support involving spatio-temporal data.
Geo Gateway for spatial data format conversion.
A comprehensive suite of image- and video-processing applications to provide a unified solution to image and video processing in the Net-centric operations context.
AI techniques for Net-centric operations.
Knowledge Resources and Intelligent Decision Analysis: a system that aims to achieve the management of large-scale military moves using extensive knowledge base and data handling.
Better robots for various surveillance and reconnaissance applications.
Intelligent Character Recognition system for the automated processing of application forms with handwritten entries.
Intelligent wheelchair for the physically challenged — a low cost, semi-automatic, motorised wheelchair.
Simulator-based laparoscopic surgery trainer.