Only AI can beat AI: CEO of Grene Robotics Kiran Raju
Hyderabad-based Grene Robotics develops an AI-driven, counter-drone system that deploys 12 layered technologies to track, engage and eliminate aerial threats.
HYDERABAD: Grene Robotics, a Hyderabad-based deep tech and robotics company claims to have developed the world’s only autonomous, wide-area, counter-drone system named Indrajaal, which can “detect, identify, classify, track and swiftly neutralise threats in real-time.” The company focuses on developing AI-driven autonomous systems for the defence, enterprise and government sectors. The systems they develop are capable of self-management and learning from their environments, constantly upgrading and evolving themselves as per changing circumstances, claims the company.
Commencing demonstrations of the system at their 79-acre test facility and Research and Development centre located on the outskirts of Hyderabad, the CEO of Grene Robotics Kiran Raju and the director of the company and co-founder of Indrajaal, Wg Cdr Sai Mallela presented the anti-dronesystem to the media persons recently, where the presiding Chief Guest was the Governor of Uttarakhand, Lt Gen Gurmit Singh. He was the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff and Additional Director General of Military Operations from 2014 to 2016.
Explaining the features and functions of the systems, Wg Cdr Sai Mallela demonstrated how the AI-driven system is capable of detecting an enemy drone and can overpower and manoeuvre it autonomously to send it back to its home location.
Lauding the company’s efforts, the Governor said the company has revolutionised India’s intellectual prowess. “Indrajaal has bolstered India’s defence capabilities and has sent a strong message to the world. It has highlighted how to customise for specific requirements through machine learning and deep learning methods,” he said.
Indrajaal works on a LEGO blocks-like combination mechanism which integrates 12 layers of technology powered by Artificial Intelligence. According to company officials, the system can cover a vast area of up to 4000 sq km and provide 360-degree protection against all kinds of threats, including low RCS threats to medium and high altitude and long endurance (MALE & HALE) drones, loitering munitions, smart bombs, rockets showers, nano and micro drones, etc.
With the aim to deploy the system in military complexes, the company seeks to provide a one-stop solution for all major limitations of the existing deployments. According to Kiran Raju, the existing point defence-based anti-UAV systems are inadequate against drone threats as they rely on physical sighting. “They can’t protect large defence bases, areas like the National Capital Region of New Delhi and international borders, against UAVs, low RCS missiles, smart munitions and swarm drones,” he said, adding that “only AI can beat AI.”
The 12 proprietary modular technologies developed by the company can be used independently or in combination to protect an area depending on the size and the nature of the threat. These technologies include HiveMind, an AI computer that can plan and execute missions, Zombee Drone, a level five autonomous drone that can kill threats and WeaponFusion which can make existing weapons autonomous by integrating them.
How it functions
“Indrajaal employs a five-step drone defence process that commences by detecting all drones present within a designated area,” said Wg Cdr Sai Mallela. “With integration with local aviation and military systems, Indrajaal gains the capability to distinguish between friend and foe while also classifying the detected drones,” he added. Furthermore, it possesses the capacity to simultaneously track and intercept multiple drones. It then monitors the speed, angle and trajectory of potential threats within the specified area, utilising predictive algorithms for weapon engagement. If a drone is assessed as a potential threat, Indrajaal activates its countermeasures, which include both soft and hard kill options, including the jamming of the drone’s control signal, disruption of its navigation systems and even the physical destruction of the drone itself. Any drone threats that might have escaped a weapon’s envelope will be retargeted, followed and eliminated, explained Mallela.
Security and procurement
On being asked whether the system is susceptible to hacking, Wg Cdr Sai Mallela said that these systems work like closed circuits, which means they are isolated and not connected to the outside world. The system deploys a “free-to-air, secure, middle-grade communication data link which operates in more than one frequency band and supports encryption standards that are required for our military deployments. So, just getting into the communication network does not get you into the system because there is an application block; getting into the communication pipeline is not possible because there is a bulk encryption block and once you are inside the AI, you have individual credentials. So not everyone in a hierarchical system is accessing the entire set. One of the devices we built just for this specific reason is called the brick device which can be controlled from where you are and if it falls into enemy hands, it is always disabled. So in most cases, we want to conform to the military standards and we have built self-destruct features for vulnerable parts of the system. We are looking at closing the loop.”
It was pointed out that the company has not received any tender so far from the army and deploying the system would be like setting a precedent. To this, the co-founder replied, “Whenever you create something new, you need to demonstrate the capability. There are Make-II and Make-III protocols as per defence procurement procedures (DPP). We can always set up a suo-moto proposal, which, for Indrajaal, has already been shared with the end users.
So whenever they need to look at a valid mission-ready system deployment, translating it into a Make-II procedure is easy. It will translate into a minimum-quantity deployment. As far as paramilitary is concerned, they have great applicability for the system. They do not follow the same procedures as DPP. So military and paramilitary, BSF, CISF, SPG, NSG, the industry sectors such as the oil and gas industry, and the pipeline infrastructure, have no embargo on DPP. This system has cross-industry applicability. We have reached out and lots of trials are being asked for. Much before that, we have asked users to come for a 10-day-long experience session and then we go back and deploy it for them. We are sure to see traction.”
Prem Kumar from Marut Drones has shown a thumbs-up to the company’s achievements and says there seem to be no loopholes in the system at present. “It is definitely beneficial in terms of operations, command and control. A lot of awareness is needed about the product since users are mostly government entities,” he said.
It must be noted that a number of defence experts and analysts were approached to comment on the relevance of such a system and where it stands as per India’s security needs are concerned but none was willing to comment.