Did you know India had an exclusive centre for robotics since 1986? Yes, it’s true. The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) lab started with just three staff in a tiny office in Bengaluru. Today, the centre has more than 300 employees.
CAIR is involved in research and development in AI, robotics, command and control, networking, information and communication security, along with the development of mission-critical products for battlefield communication and management systems. CAIR was appraised for Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Maturity Level 2 in 2014 and has ISO 9001:2015 certification.
As part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), robotics was one of the priority areas of CAIR, said V S Mahalingam, former director, CAIR.
Mahalingam joined DRDO in 1986 and served in Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) till 2000 before he moved to CAIR.
“Concentrating on the development of totally indigenous robots, the lab developed a variety of controllers and manipulators for Gantry, Scara, and other types of robots. With the experience gained from these initial years, the lab developed an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV). The expertise in control systems required for robotics was applied to the development of control laws for Tejas fighter,” Mahalingam added.
CAIR’s current focus areas include Netcentric systems for tactical command control and communication systems, intelligent systems, unmanned systems, information security, AI and robotics. In 2012, scientist Sanjay Burman assumed charge as Director of CAIR.
Here, we take a look at a timeline of major CAIR projects over the years.
CAIR scientists developed an artificial intelligence expert system shell called Nipuna in the early 1990s. Nipuna was a computer programme designed to solve complex problems and offer human-like decision-making abilities. Nipuna could monitor the health of radars.
Neural network-based software
Around the same time, the facility’s scientists developed a neural network-based software for processing application forms. “The software can correct various human errors in handling forms and also correct spelling mistakes committed by the applicants. After processing, the software would automatically update a database,” Mahalingam added.
Command and control system
Around early 2000, CAIR started the development of a command and control system for decision support. Mahalingam told media that the system was handed to the Indian Army. CAIR also provided software for the fusion of sensor information for battlefield surveillance. Later, the centre started working on a versatile geographical information system (GIS) for the diverse requirements of defence forces.
Natural Language Processing
CAIR lab supported many research and development efforts related to natural language text processing (NLPs), intelligent data mining, and inferencing engines to benefit the next generation C3I systems.
Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence (C3I) system integrates computing machines, communication networks and sensors. These systems are predominantly used in military operations to enable information superiority and efficacy.
Mahalingam explained how the centre also established a 3D virtual reality terrain visualisation system with fly-through capability. The lab’s current focus is on miniature and micro miniature mobile robotic platforms for futuristic reconnaissance and combat support.
Designed by a team of 40 scientists at CAIR, Netra is an Internet spy system to capture any dubious voice traffic in Skype or Google Talk.
It intercepts messages with keywords such as ‘attack’, ‘bomb’, ‘blast’ or ‘kill’ in real-time from tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, internet calls, blogs and forums. “The specifications of the ‘Netra’ system can be taken as frozen following tests by the Intelligence Bureau and cabinet secretariat, and can be considered for providing multiple user access to security agencies,” a press note released in 2014 said.
Initially, RAW was the only user of this monitoring system. However, in 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs felt that domestic law enforcement agencies should use a second Netra system.
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Shanthi has been a feature writer for over a decade and has worked in several print and digital media companies. She specialises in writing company profiles, interviews and trends. Through her articles for the Analytics India Magazine, she aims to humanise tech in India. She is also a mom and her favourite pastime is playing a game of monopoly or watching Gilmore Girls with her daughter.