Chennai-based start-up to help develop AI-based unmanned ground vehicles for Army

Chennai-based start-up to help develop AI-based unmanned ground vehicles for Army
Vibhakar (L) Abhi Vignesh (C) and Vignesh at the Aero show in Bengaluru posing in front of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Photo | EPS)

The autonomous UGV can be used for logistics and surveillance at extreme weather and terrain conditions, said Vibhakar, one of the co-founders of the start-up Torus Robotic Pvt Ltd.

CHENNAI: Indian Army jawans deployed at high altitude could now heave a sigh of relief as a Chennai-based start-up started by three engineering graduates has tied up with BEML for joint development of Artificial intelligence (AI) based indigenous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).

The founders of the startup — Vibhakar Senthil, Vignesh M, Abbhi Vignesh K, all mechatronics engineers and holding Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree –, were struggling initially but their resilience paid off when they tied up with BEML to develop AI-based unmanned ground vehicles.

“The product we are going to develop is 750Kg UGV, which can be used for extreme weather and terrain conditions. It is autonomous and can be used for logistics and surveillance,” said Vibhakar, one of the co-founders of the start-up Torus Robotic Pvt Ltd.

The SRM University graduates, who have been initially working on projects of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), say that the Army Design Bureau helped them in the initial stages.

“We did a proper research on what our jawans want before embarking on developing the product,” says Vibhakar. Usually, a jawan has to carry more than 60kg of equipment at high altitude and this is very difficult for them. This unmanned ground vehicle will now carry the load being carried out by 10 jawans. Not only that it will be able to provide them with power through the UGV battery. “This will help provide our jawans a technological advantage,” said Vibhakar.

“The product is expected to be launched by the end of this year. And the production can begin by 2023,” says Vibhakar. It is learnt that the trio is planning to set up a factory at Ambattur in Chennai in March this year. And it is not only defence products they are focussing on. They are keen to tap the electric vehicles market also. “The electric motor which we developed for UGV is the most efficient one and we are trying to tap the electric vehicle market also,” said Vibhakar.

The use of UGVs, which are state-of-the-art robots, has acquired a greater significance in counter-insurgency, urban- as well as jungle-warfare situations for varied tasks, including surveillance and reconnaissance operations and safe handling and disposal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The unmanned vehicles, be it aerial or ground or underwater, are considered as the major force multipliers in the future battles as they are not only economical to develop and maintain than the conventional warfighting machines but also reduce the risk of human life. 

In recent years the capabilities of unmanned vehicles have been employed over a larger spectrum of combat roles, including armed-combat support with remarkable success, which in turn has driven the major defence industries to develop a whole new portfolio of weapons specifically designed for use on future unmanned combat vehicles.