• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

TDF scheme playing a crucial role in promoting ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence; Start-ups & MSMEs being encouraged to enhance capabilities in cutting-edge technology

The Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme is encouraging the participation of public/private industries, especially start-ups and MSMEs, to create an ecosystem aimed at enhancing the capabilities in cutting-edge technology and promoting ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. The TDF scheme is a flagship programme of Ministry of Defence executed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Till date, a total of 77 projects, with a commitment of over Rs 300 crore, have been sanctioned to various industries, and 27 defence technologies have been successfully realised under the scheme.

Following are the success stories of some start-ups under the TDF scheme:

1.Combat Robotics, Pune

Combat Robotics, the Pune-based start-up, has successfully developed an Innovative Simulator for Unmanned Vehicles. It is a multi-domain simulator that supports Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), serving as an excellent development tool for agencies working on developing autonomous systems.

The simulator provides Comprehensive Environmental Modelling, Scenario & Vehicle Modelling and Intuitive Control Systems with Developer Documentation. It is designed to cater to the demands of testing, and validate the autonomous behaviours of unmanned vehicles across multiple domains. It has been developed under the aegis of Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), a Bengaluru-based laboratory of DRDO.

2.ChiStats Labs Private Limited, Pune

Virtual Sensors for Aero Gas Turbine Engine Health Monitoring:
The project involves development of a comprehensive diagnostic system of various parts of Aero Gas Turbine Engine (AGTE), leading to increased operational reliability and longevity of the engine. The system is built on stronger foundations of modern Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) technologies. It efficiently handles large-scale data, and conducts operational assessments rapidly with a high degree of accuracy. The virtual sensor framework is being developed indigenously.

The technology has been successfully developed under the technical guidance and mentorship by Gas Turbine Research Establishment, a Bengaluru-based laboratory of DRDO. ChiStats Labs Private Limited is a start-up in the field of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and the winner of Dare to Dream 2.0 Innovation contest of DRDO.

Tools for Data Assessment, Active Learning & Believability for Visual Data:

This ground breaking project is aimed at enhancing AI model validation and optimisation for defence applications. It will facilitate collaboration among scientists through shared and reproducible experiments. All the tools are accessible via a user-friendly web interface.

The project focuses on developing a comprehensive framework to address the unique challenges posed by the vast amounts of data generated in defence scenarios. It consists of four key modules: Data/Feature Assessment, Active Learning, AI Believability and Web Application. It will empower defence organisations to build more accurate, reliable, and efficient AI models, leading to improved decision-making and enhanced capabilities in various critical applications. CAIR, Bengaluru was instrumental in mentoring and monitoring of the project.

3. NewSpace Research and Technologies Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru

The Bengaluru-based start-up, under the project titled ‘Autonomous Drone as First Responder for Search and Report Operations in Enclosed/Indoor Environments’, has created a cutting-edge UAV capable of exploring indoor environments under various conditions, including in zero light. The project focuses on development of Indoor UAV integrated with autonomous navigation stack, onboard object detection module and localisation fall back mechanism integrated with flight control firmware. Integration with autonomous navigation stack includes 3D mapping, exploration algorithm and AI/ML engine.

The success of the project opens up avenues for various applications including search and rescue operations, surveillance, industrial inspections, environment monitoring as well as hazardous environment exploration, contributing significantly to technological advancements in unmanned aerial systems. The technology has been developed under the technical guidance and mentorship of CAIR, Bengaluru.

Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr. Samir V Kamat has congratulated the start-ups and DRDO labs associated with these projects. These achievements mark DRDO’s successful endeavour to promote the industry in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, he said.

The main objectives of the TDF scheme include:

To provide Grant in Aid to Indian industries, including MSMEs & start-ups, as well as academic and scientific institutions for the development of defence and dual use technologies that are currently not available with the Indian defence Industry.

To engage with the private industries, especially MSMEs and start-ups, to bring in the culture of Design & Development of Military Technology and support them with Grant in Aid.

To focus on Research, Design & Development of Niche technologies which are being developed for the first time in the country.

To create a bridge amongst the Armed Forces, research organisations, academia and qualifying, certifying agencies with private sector entities.

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