These products range from equipment to detect stealth-human activity and translate Mandarin language in real time, to detecting suspicious vehicles and analysing intercepts of the adversary in the Western Theatre.
New Delhi: Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Army is now among the few global armed forces operating with a plethora of Artificial Intelligence (AI) aided equipment, which has resulted in improved operational success and decrease in fatalities to its men.
Within a short period of four years that started in March 2018, when a multi-stakeholder task force was set up on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to study how to implement AI in the national security perspective, the various arms under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), are, as of today, using at least 75 AI products and technologies or are in the advanced stage of putting these products into use.
The said task force was set up under the chairmanship of N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons and submitted its report in June 2018, suggesting multiple inductions into the system, including the establishment of the High level Defence AI Council (DAIC) and a Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA).
Based on the recommendations of the aforesaid task force, the Ministry of Defence in February 2019 created Defence AI Council (DAIC) under the Chairmanship of Singh and Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA), with Secretary (Defence Production) as the ex-officio head for providing necessary guidance to enable and effect development of operating framework, policy level changes and structural support for AI adoption in the Indian military.
This urgency, which is rarely seen in the Indian administrative ways of working, led to the MoD preparing a specific Artificial Intelligence (AI) roadmap for each defence public sector undertaking (DPSU). As a result of this push by the highest office of the present government, by March 2020, 16 AI products were developed by these DPSUs. The number rose to 26 by March 2021, and by the end of March 2022, another 40 products were developed.
To put things in perspective on how the Indian military, as happens generally, did not fall behind in exploring and implementing this new technology, the most advanced Army of the world, the US Army, too, created a dedicated command to implement AI United States Army Futures Command (AFC) headquartered in Austin, Texas, only in August 2018.
China, similarly, issued its AI development plan in July 2018, announcing to emerge as the world leader in AI technology by 2030. Pakistan’s first venture in the field took place in August 2020 when it opened a “Centre of Artificial Intelligence and Computing” at Chaklala, Rawalpindi. Turkey, another close ally of Pakistan, through Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), has started working on AI related products from 2018.
Documents and related details shared by Indian government officials with The Sunday Guardian reveal the extent of how these AI products are augmenting the strength of the security establishment.
While the details of most of the products that are being used or are in advanced stages of development have been shared, there are a few products whose details have been kept under wraps by the government due to the sensitivity of the functions they execute.
These products range from equipment that detect stealth human activity, translate Mandarin language in real time, detect suspicious vehicles (and prevent Pulwama-like tragedy) to programs to analyse and automate intercepts of the adversary in the Western Theatre (Pakistan-based terror groups who converse in localised Urdu, Punjabi and local languages in order to avoid giving out information regarding their terror related operations).
Official sources told The Sunday Guardian that from this stage, these programs and equipment will keep getting better and will cover other operational demands, as Government of India, encouraged by the result shown by the DPSUs and MoD officials in the last four years, will be allocating more money and resources to put the Indian armed forces among the top five global forces when it comes to using AI tools and programs.
Some of these equipment and programs that are being used by the Indian armed forces include:
1. Storm drone:
An AI-enabled automated room intervention drone system with the capability to carry and drop lethal and non-lethal payload to carry out building clearance and urban surveillance in GPS denied areas. It is being used in counter-terrorism room intervention operations, urban area surveillance, disaster response, rescue operations in underground mines (coal and iron ore mines), construction, forest, and poaching monitoring.
It has saved the lives of military and civilians in urban counter terrorist operations, reduced the engagement time in operations, has aided in situational awareness and informed decision making and is being used in urban surveillance and tracking of threats.
2. Drone feed analysis:
The Drone Feed Analysis system is an AI deep learning, which analyses objects retrieved by remotely piloted aircraft and builds a database repository, and carries out AI-enabled analysis providing military pattern of enemy operations and analysis and prediction of events.
It is being used for conventional military Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, Smartization of Road Opening Party (ROP) Ops, live monitoring of counter terrorism operation, border surveillance, illegal immigration movements, drugs trafficking, disaster response and progress monitoring (traffic, agriculture, shipping, construction, etc).
It is increasing the efficiency and usage of strategic surveillance assets, reducing the operations engagement time, aiding in situational awareness and informed decision making, has helped in increasing the area under surveillance, while drastically reducing the cost of surveillance missions and analysis.
3. Seeker monitoring and analysis system:
The Seeker system is a self-contained AI-based facial recognition, surveillance, monitoring, and analysis system for identification and tracking of threats for counter terrorism, continuous surveillance and monitoring of disturbed areas. It can also be employed for ensuring state of the art security of critical military/civilian establishments and monitoring at border crossing points. The AI-powered analytics module enables processing of Intelligence data from various sources to identify and track movement of terrorists and anti-national elements aided by accurate information collection.
It is helping the forces by leading to an efficient and effective surveillance, allowing psychological dominance on threats and anti-national elements, aiding the pre and post incident analysis, increasing the area of surveillance and reducing the manpower requirement.
4. Mandarin translators:
In order to develop indigenous capability, the Indian Army has been focusing in multiple domains to leverage AI. In the domain of Natural Language Processing (NLP) it has focused on AI based Bi-directional Mandarin to English Wearable Translation devices.
The device is a wearable device for speech-to-speech translation. It equips intelligence agencies with a bi-directional speech-to-speech system that accepts input audio/speech in one source language (e.g., English/Mandarin) and converts it into an equivalent audio/speech of the target language (e.g. Mandarin/English). The portable translation device has real time bi-directional speech capability, without any rearward network connectivity. It weighs 80-100 gm, with a latency of 3-4 seconds and a battery life of 12 hours.
5. “Project prism”—AI based motion and object detection for target identification:
All units in the Indian Army in operation/field are involved in active surveillance measures for ensuring security of Area of Responsibility (AoR). Majority of the surveillance inputs are in the form of real-time video feeds converging at company posts, battalion surveillance centre, division surveillance centre, etc.
Manual monitoring of real-time continuous video surveillance is very cumbersome and monotonous in nature. No such system exists in IA which can automatically detect and classify objects for target identification.
Proactive Real-time Intelligence and Surveillance Monitoring System (PRISM) is an Artificial Intelligence-based system, which is first of its kind software in the Indian Army capable of generating real-time audio/visual alerts on detecting suspicious enemy movements from multiple surveillance inputs for monitoring real-time feeds from the Line of Control, Line of Actual Control and counter-terrorism areas to perform real-time motion detection, target identification and tracking.
The system is capable of performing real-time video analysis to identify movement detection, object detection and target identification from multiple surveillance feed inputs. The system supports detection of multiple types of objects appearing within the same frame or region of video input. It is capable of processing multiple camera inputs/surveillance feeds which are distributed over a local network to a single computer for analysis. The software is capable of identifying the presence of a particular object and raising an alert from long distances. Field tested for various surveillance devices ranging from close range to long ranges up to 800-1,000 meters. Detection ranges can be further scaled up for longer distance depending on surveillance device optical capability. The system is seamlessly capable of analysing night surveillance videos with higher accuracy by integrating with infrared and thermal vision cameras.
It is capable of raising an audio alert to sentry on occurrence of motion/appearance of an object of user’s interest.
6. “Project v-logger” vehicle tracking system:
Weaponizing the vehicle is an emerging trend amongst terror groups, with the Pulwama attack of 2019 being a prime example of it. Despite deliberate measures, the identity of a suspicious vehicle still remains a challenge to the units deployed on active fronts.
V-Log Veh Tracker is a state of the art AI-based software tool being developed for detection and tracking of civilian vehicles using licence plates. The system uses the latest state-of-the-art AI and Deep Learning algorithms for real-time vehicle detection from live video feeds. The system is capable of identifying individual vehicles from moving traffic in real time, extract the vehicle information to include number plate, make, model, colour, etc., on-the-fly and corroborate the details with a registered vehicle database for cross matching the identity of the vehicle. The system is capable of raising an automatic alarm in case of any identification mismatch in vehicle credentials amounting to suspicion.
7. Sarvatra pehchaan, an AI-based intrusion detection and integrated command station:
(a) Fusion of sensory feeds from multiple imaging systems and sensors on a single dashboard.
(b) AI-based video analytics for anomaly detection allowing rapid intervention.
8. Silent sentry (rail mounted robot with AI):
The fully 3D-printed rail mounted robot slides on a rail that can be installed on fences. The robot can be controlled from computers/tablets and android app, as well as function autonomously within set limits. The system utilises two AI features for surveillance, i.e. human detection and face recognition for the purpose of surveillance.
(i) Human Detection: The video feed received from the robot is analysed by an AI software utilising object recognition. The software detects movement and human presence automatically, generates an audio alarm and stores the photographs with time and date log.
(ii) Facial Recognition: On detection of a human, a background facial recognition algorithm is activated, which tries to determine the identity of a person from a stored database. The facial features are then stored in the database.
9. AI-based Intercept Management System (IMS)
One of the major tasks in military operations is corroboration of intelligence that requires analysis and interpretation of a huge number of intercepts for generation of Common Operating Intelligence Picture (COIP). The analysis, visualisation, interpretation and corroboration of such unstructured data is a challenging task. Further the predictive analysis of future operation events requires the support of Artificial Intelligence to plug the gaps. Hence, an urgent requirement was felt to design and develop Artificial Intelligence Based Intercept Management System.
IMS is an indigenous software developed inhouse to analyse and automate intercepts of adversaries in the Western Theatre. The software makes use of visualisation techniques and artificial intelligence to interpret op-critical data, thereby generating accurate intelligence pictures.
10. Continuously Observing Ubiquitously Available Artificial Intelligence Surveillance System (Choukass):
Existing surveillance equipment deployed for early warning of enemy intrusion, suffer from inherent disadvantages of line of sight limitations, deployment restricted to its own side, resources heavy, high power requirement and need for continuous manning. Choukass does not suffer from any such limitations. It is designed to obtain early warning of any intrusions, and is extremely portable.
The optical sensor constantly monitors the field of view and when it gets any movement it transmits information in real time through a small inbuilt NB-IOT satellite module to a customized web portal accessible at its own surveillance centres.
11. AI capability in swarm drones
Drone Swarms are a group of drones operating in conjunction with the ground maneuver forces which would provide an aerial maneuver capability during offensive as well as defensive tasks. The shaping of the battlefield can be greatly influenced by Drone Swarms, thereby allowing preservation of decisive columns of mechanized forces initially and application at place and time of own choosing. The inherent advantages of affordability, flexible employability, redundancy, precision, software domination, reduction in mission costs, beyond visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) attack capabilities and risk of human casualties make the Swarm Drone a potent weapon for conventional as well as non-conventional operations. Swarm Drones can be effectively employed to detect enemy ground activities and target enemy ground forces to include troops, vehicles and command and control links.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms used in the system are capable of communicating with each other to form a swarm and achieve a collective goal. Artificial Intelligence algorithms have also been designed and developed to compute the shortest path, form a pattern and achieve the common goal such as combined search of a large area. Each drone is powered with distributed active collision avoidance algorithms. These algorithms compute any future collision with every other drone and alter its path dynamically.
Target detection and identification algorithms used in the system enable detection and identification of small size targets, vehicles and structures from high altitude and distance. These algorithms are able to perform precise identification wherein it is able to distinguish between equipment, humans, animals and other objects. Depending upon whether the target is a friend or foe, it also suggests action that can be taken to neutralise the threat, if any, to the operator.
12. Sapper Scout, Mine Detection UGV:
The “Sapper Scout” is a mine detection UGV (unmanned ground vehicle), capable of detecting mines and marking mines using an illuminating spray. The UGV has a tracked platform enabling it to move cross-country in all kinds of terrain. The prototype also consists of a 5-axis robotic arm for cutting the trip wires of fragmentation mines. The UGV has 3 different cameras—one for accessing the detected mine, the second for mobility of the UGV and the third for 360-degree recce of the environment.
13. AI-based satellite imagery analysis:
Indigenised solution that provides comprehensive real-time geospatial situational awareness backed by cutting-edge research and development. It generates one-click actionable insights supporting multi-sensor, multi-platform data fusion. It utilises state-of-the-art data-processing and advanced Artificial Intelligence techniques for multiple aerial and space platforms. It is fine-tuned for a wide range of security user requirements.
Some of its key features include, geographic information system-based solution, highly scalable solution, operationalized on live-data, field customizable analytics, secure-edge filed trainable AI-based change detection and analysis, AI-based target detection and recognition, and supports multiple aerial and space platforms.