What if India has such a vehicle that can run like a car on roads, effortlessly manoeuvre on bumpy terrains and can climb rocks like a man? Imagine the might such an automatic vehicle would add to the Indian armed forces and attract demands from across the world.
The artificial intelligence (AI)-powered vehicle is in the initial stage of the development process at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur. “It has been conceptualised for defence needs. It would be an all-terrain vehicle, designed especially for deserts like that in western Rajasthan,” IIT Jodhpur director Prof. Santanu Chaudhury told The New Indian.
The project is being developed by a team led by Prof. C Venkatesan of the department of mechanical engineering and will be assembled and tested at the DRDO-Industry-Academia Centre of Excellence (DIA-COE) being set up by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at IIT, Jodhpur.
This is a futuristic tech product that will change warfare, said Prof. Venkatesan, a renowned personality in helicopter drone technology in India.
“We want to make a vehicle with the capability of moving effortlessly on the sand, which can transform its shape in such a way that it can cross any sand dunes or rocky surfaces like a man would do,” he said about the concept of the vehicle.
Researchers aim to programme the vehicle in such a way that it can make intelligent decisions according to the situation.
“The literature survey has already been done. We made a presentation before DRDO officials, and they liked it. Now, we are writing a detailed proposal so that they can understand how we plan to design such a product and if necessary, make necessary modifications to it,” Prof. Venkatesan informed.
Once modalities are finalised, the fully autonomous military vehicle will be developed at the centre of excellence by students, researchers, and professors in consultations with industry stakeholders and the DRDO.
“The vehicle will be small in size. It may look like a car, a dog, a human being or something else – it will be decided later. Sensors, AI, robotics and other related technologies will be used to realise this concept,” he said.
Speaking about the significance of the IIT Jodhpur’s innovative concept, Delhi-based defence expert Major General (retired) PK Sehgal said: “We have different kinds of terrains in different parts of India and there are various limitations and challenges associated with navigation in these areas. Such a vehicle capable of changing its shape and size to cross obstacles would enormously add to the prowess of defence forces.”
Describing the futuristic vehicle as a “first-of-its-kind” in the world, Sehgal, who headed the Army Air Defence College, said that the vehicle could have the potential of attracting enormous demands from across the world.