Scientists from defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited’s (BEL) Central Research Laboratory (CRL) in Bengaluru, who began work on this first responder robot in December 2018, are confident of having the first prototype by December 2019.
“Like Steve Jobs said, users don’t know what they want until you show it to them. As a company committed to R&D, we want to be able to show capabilities that can become useful for armed forces, this is one such project,” Gowthama said.
As part of enhancing India’s defence capabilities, scientists have been quietly working on all terrain artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled robots that may eventually patrol the country’s borders.
Globally, companies like Irobot Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Mitsubishi, Thales Group, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Corporation, et al, have been working on first responder border patrol robots. Korea has been building completely different kind of robots—some reports describe them as machines inspired by the Avatar movie.
BEL CMD Gowthama MV: “AI will change how some critical operations are conducted by the armed forces, and our robot will even been able to patrol the borders.” Although Ajay Kumar, secretary, defence production, has said the prototype of this robot, along with a few other AI-enabled products from BEL will be ready this year, there has been no specific requirements from the armed forces sent to BEL so far.
He said BEL has started putting together preliminary requirements for design and implementation of the project and has already conducted training programmes to build competency in AI.
Experts TOI spoke with—security observers, former military commanders and members of think-tanks —say India is likely to take at least a decade, if not more, to have a functional robot that can perform this task.