BANGALORE: The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR)-- one of the lesser-talked-about establishments of the city-based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-- turned 25 on Monday.
From a rather humble one-room office located in another defence facility in the state capital in 1986 and manned by a skeletal three-member staff, CAIR has developed into a gigantic unit engaged in developing systems and solutions in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation computer networking, communications, and security.
Topping its tempting tech menu are C3I systems (Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence), Tactical Communication Systems (TCS), Communication Secrecy systems, information assurance technologies. With a strong bonding developed between the industry and research institutions, today CAIR’s combined strength stands at 350.
From developing an artificial intelligence expert system shell called Nipuna during its earlier days, which eventually got ported to a Personal Computer, CAIR has expanded its reach to provide smarter solutions which aid the armed forces.
“Development work in robotics was one of the priority areas from the inception of the lab. 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,” CAIR director V S Mahalingam told the Express.
CAIR scientists were able to come up with a neural network-based software for processing application forms and its utility value was greatly enhanced by the fact that the software could be run on a PC. “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.
And when an expanded charter came calling in early 2000, CAIR began the development of a major command and control system for decision support.
“After several rounds of user trials, the system was formally handed over to the Indian Army. In a supportive role, CAIR has provided software for fusion of sensor information for battlefield surveillance. Today a versatile geographical information system (GIS) is emerging from CAIR for the diverse requirements of various defence forces,” the CAIR chief added.
In the area of artificial intelligence too, CAIR has made significant R&D efforts related to the natural language text processing, intelligent data mining, and inferencing engines. These are expected to benefit the next generation C3I systems.
“A 3D virtual reality terrain visualisation system with fly through capability has been established at the facility. The present focus is on miniature and micro miniature mobile robotic platforms as they are the key for futuristic reconnaissance and combat supportive roles,” says Mahalingam.
According to the DRDO chief V K Saraswat, the future conflicts, however, big or small, would be won by intelligent systems.