Indigenously built robots, capable of delivering ammunition at intended locations, will soon be used by the Army in its fight against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
An army proposal, projecting a requirement of 544 robots, has been approved by the defence ministry, paving the way for the indigenous development of such machines, army officials said.
The army’s proposal for adopting robotic security and surveillance stresses that the footprint of terror has expanded from jungles and rural areas to urban sectors, necessitating the induction of the systems in the force.
“The way the situation is evolving (in J&K), it may just be a matter of time when security forces as a whole, and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in particular, will be facing the threat in built-up and super built-up areas,” the army said, making a strong case for robotic platforms.
Involved in carrying out scores of operations daily, the RR is an elite counter-terrorism force raised in the nineties. “These robotic surveillance platforms can be extensively used by the RR forces…for gathering real-time input prior to manual insertion,” says an army note.
The “lightweight and rugged” robots will consist of several subsystems such as surveillance cameras and transmission systems with a range of 200 metres. The army’s requirements state that the robots should be able to “deliver suitable ammunition…e.g. stun grenade.”
The approval for the robotic surveillance platform has been granted under the ‘Make’ category of acquisition in the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 that lays down that only Indian vendors are eligible for the projects.
The army has also factored in the possibility of two or more teams operating jointly in a target area. “A second unit which can be operated alongside the first unit by a single operator with the same remote (having at least dual display screen) should also form part of the system,” the note adds.
The force has been using a locally-produced remotely operated vehicle, Daksh, for handling improvised explosive devices. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Daksh can climb stairs, has three-hour endurance on battery, can be operated with remote within a range of 500 metres and can lift 20 kg loads.