In recent years, to prepare for future warfare, the Indian army has been making efforts to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various operations on the ground. AI and 5G are the emerging technologies that the Indian Army is keen on incorporating and IIT Madras has been propped up for deploying 5G networks in the border area.
“However, the path is riddled with hoops to jump through, and every miss will be deadly. Both pose unique challenges for the Army,” says Girish Linganna, Defence Analyst.
The Army has deployed around 145 assets, and the AI based solutions are being used to gather intelligence to counter terrorism. According to sources in the Defence and Security establishment, “The Army has been developing in-house algorithms which are being used to analyse in-puts which are being gathered from various sensors in the field.”
So far, according to sources, several units of AI-powered Smart Surveillance Systems have been deployed by the Indian army in Northern and Western borders. “Each of these units has the capability to handle heterogeneous inputs from devices including handheld thermal imagers and PTZ cameras.
And at eight locations based in the Northern and Southern Theatre, the Army has deployed an AI-based suspicious vehicle recognition system.”
How does the whole system work?
This AI software provides real time inputs which help in deriving solutions to the formation commanders. This is done based on the data that is picked by an analytical platform.
According to sources, for complex AI-based projects, the Indian Army is not only working with Defence and Research Organisation but also with the industry and academia. AI Lab has been established at the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE). All the AI projects before being handed over to the production agency for deployment; undergo extensive in-house testing at MCTE.
“The Indian Army is getting ready to exploit 5G for supporting operations in tactical battlefield areas. For mission critical communication for front line troops, high bandwidth low latency 5G connectivity is better suited,” said a source.
The Indian Army has carried out a detailed Joint Services Study on the implementation of 5G in Defence Services under the aegis of Corps of Signals.
“The Indian Army was the lead service in conducting the study and the three services are examining the recommendations made for the usage of the 5G,” said the source quoted above.
Adding, “After deliberations, the study has recommended a roadmap for the induction of 5G in the armed forces of the country.”
Drone control, real-time augmented and virtual reality for training and operations, smart surveillance are among some of the cases under consideration.
Expert view on the adoption of AI & 5G
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Girish Linganna, Defence Analyst, says, “With 5G, the issue of interfering radio waves is detrimental to communication. Even with only 5G deployed on the Chinese side, the Indian troops have been facing the deterioration of their communication due to the 5G waves.”
“Further, 5G is prone to security risks and malicious attacks. This fear has ostracised Huawei, a Chinese company pioneering 5G worldwide, until banned by the West. This may have stopped one actor but does not address the more significant security vulnerabilities in any 5G deployment,” he explains.
AI in Indian Army
On the other hand, “Artificial Intelligence is replete with immediate and long-term shortcomings, depending upon the use case. Currently, there is a push for autonomous vehicles on the battlefield. However, military vehicles that often weigh manifold our civilian counterparts attain speeds upwards of 80 kmph in harsh battlefield conditions. When we entrust the capabilities of autonomous vehicles that carry such momentum, we must consider the case of Boeing and Tesla. Boeing faced a global grounding of its 737 Max due to a software error that caused a slew of crashes and lives lost. Tesla, too, has been responsible for deaths due to errors in its driver assist software that it maliciously markets as ‘Autopilot’,” says Girish Linganna.
According to him, “AI will eventually make its way into mission-critical and maybe armed scenarios. In fact, Israeli Mossad relied on a satellite-controlled and AI-assisted robotic machine gun mounted on a truck to eliminate an Iranian nuclear scientist. China has also deployed robot dogs with machine guns mounted on them. However, the lessons from other AI use cases, such as Apple’s credit system, give us a big reason to worry. Apple’s system used AI to determine the limit for each individual. However, it ended up discriminating against people of colour and women. This means that AI is not infallible. In fact, it will be biased if the data that it is fed is biased.”