February 29, 2024

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India Increases AI Capabilities in Defence Sector

The Ministry of Defence, in a press release, recently outlined the measures the government is taking to boost the digital transformation of the sector, specifically through artificial intelligence-based products and programmes. The Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, announced that an AI roadmap has been finalised for defence public sector undertakings (DPSU). Under the plan, 70 defence-specific AI projects have been slated for development. Out of these, 40 projects are already completed.

Furthermore, AI framework and guidelines for projects and programmes in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have been issued. All DRDO system laboratories have formed AI technology groups to introduce AI features in defence products. DRDO also has three dedicated laboratories to carry out orientated AI research in different domains: the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), the DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory (DYSL)-AI, and the DYST-CT (Cognitive Technology). CAIR nurtures start-ups and conducts workshops for DRDO scientists to create skill sets for AI in defence systems.

Meanwhile, the government set up the Defence Artificial Intelligence Council (DAIC) and the Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA) to provide guidance and structural support and enable AI-based processes in defence organisations. The Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), a government-run engineering training institute, is conducting certified courses in AI and machine learning. So far, more than 1,000 professionals have been trained in these domains.

The government is also promoting AI in academia and the industry through research and development projects under the Defence Industry Academia Centre of Excellences and the DRDO Extramural Research and Technology Development Fund scheme. The Department of Defence Production has earmarked US $12.6 million per year for AI projects for the armed forces.

In January, the Indian Army set up an AI centre at the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE) in Madhya Pradesh. It oversees more than 140 deployments in areas of emerging tech and active support of the industry and academia. The centre, along with a quantum computing laboratory, carries out extensive research in developing transformative technologies for military use.

Last month, the Indian Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, launched 75 AI-enabled products at the first-ever AI in Defence (AIDef) symposium and exhibition, organised by the Ministry of Defence. As OpenGov Asia reported, three AI products developed by DPSUs were screened during the event, namely an AI-enabled voice transcription/analysis software, a driver fatigue monitoring system, and an AI-enabled evaluation of welding defects in X-rays of non-destructive testing.

Singh also released an e-book comprising the details of the 75 products. It explored the collective efforts taken by government research departments and the private industry over the last four years in the field of AI. He said that the government aims to develop AI-enabled applications for enhanced social welfare and national security. India intends to be a global hub for AI and among the leading countries in the field. The government has also signed several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the industry to create and deploy AI applications in the defence sector. Several AI-related challenges under the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiatives were launched. Singh urged the industry and start-ups to explore newer avenues and work closely with the government to ensure India is completely self-reliant in AI technology.


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