The defence industry is one of the most adaptable and techno-savvy sectors that had determined the prowess of a country’s strength and dominance over global matters from time immemorial.
The modern army’s precision and accuracy in weapons are steadily forcing contemporary battlefields to be empty of human combatants.
As more and more sensors and data collection devices fill the battlespace that sends vast amounts of data back to their analysts, humans are now struggling to utilize this mountain of information gathering day by day.
And this is where robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) fill the gap of handling as well as executing this vast amount of collected data.
Introduction of Robots in Military Applications can change the tide of any combat outcome within a fraction of seconds.
AI-powered Robots in Military Applications can easily travel across hazardous terrains, can perform remote surgery, and can execute dangerous surveillance missions.
As the popularity of AI and Robots in Military Applications continues to grow more sophisticated and extensive, many private players and federal agencies are now gradually looking forward to integrating robots within the defense sector at a larger scale.
Taking a small incident to cement the growing use of Robots in Military Applications, US and UK soldiers carried out an unprecedented exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, on 6 April 2018 that utilized remote-controlled diggers.
They cleared the explosives and also filled in a trench while an unmanned armored vehicle was providing cover with a white smokescreen.
Global Advancements and Outlook of Robots Integration in Defence
Always standing at the forefront of leveraging most hi-tech technologies in their defence armor, the United States military had long ago started investing in civilian AI and robots.
As Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started funneling money into key areas of AI research as well as utilizing robotic implants and AI-powered Robots in Military Applications.
Moreover, many private players are now showing their interest in entering the defence space, as the U.S. Army leverages the assistance of private companies in developing robot-assisted systems and machines to improve their weapons capabilities.
DARPA is also working on semi-autonomous gremlin drones that can be easily launched and retrieved by a mothership. Meanwhile, in the US, many pocket-sized reconnaissance bots are getting tested for large-scale use.
And the US is not the only country that is venturing into the field of Robots in Military Applications, the German and French defence ministers have also declared their plans to develop a new fighter plane dubbed the ‘Eurodrone’ that is set for take-off in 2040.
Russia is another such country that is driving advances in using Robots in Military Applications like using Unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) technology.
According to the reports, they’re also developing a 10-ton combat UGV, anti-tanks rocket as well as the T-14, a semi-autonomous tank.
India’s Stance on Utilizing Robots in Military Applications
Sensing the looming scenario around the world, India did not lag far behind in the robotic race of integrating new and advanced technologies in their defence sector.
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), being the specialized Research and Development defence branch of the country, has a specialized laboratory called Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) with about 150 scientists that deeply focus on AI Robotics, Control Systems, Command Control Communications and Intelligence (C3I), Networking and Communications Secrecy.
DRDO has developed a family of robots specializing in surveillance and reconnaissance applications. The robot utilizing these missions has been named RoboSen.
Also, some of the developed Robots in Military Applications getting acknowledged include a miniaturized man-portable UGV, a wall climbing flapping-wing robot as well as a walking robot with four and six legs for logistics support.
They have also developed robots having cognitive capabilities that have the intelligence to play Chess and inspect the serviceability of components.
Another noteworthy achievement includes the development of intelligent wheelchairs for physically challenged persons.
CAIR also has its hand in developing a NetWork Traffic Analysis (NETRA) that can monitor internet traffic and intercept keywords like a bomb blast, kill and other designated words in the real-time world.
Apart from these praiseworthy achievements, Defence AI Council (DAIC) had been constituted with Defence Minister as Chairman that would meet twice a year to provide strategic direction in AI-driven transformation in defence.
Nonetheless, as more and more countries are moving towards autonomous vehicles and UAVs as the next step, it is also a known fact that just as easily these drones can be used to protect national interests, they also can bring havoc when used by the enemy and terrorists for the same purposes.
So, the first step should maintain proper ethics while developing and utilizing Robots in Military Applications responsibly.