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Hyderabad firm develops AI-powered system to counter hostile drones, takes it to armed forces

Hyderabad: Amid the changing dynamics of warfare and the increasing use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance and attacks, counter-drone systems have become a priority. Enter Hyderabad-based Grene Robotics, with its AI-powered ‘Indrajaal’ Counter Unmanned Aircraft System to help not just the armed forces but also private installations like airports and refineries.

Unveiled this week in Hyderabad, Indrajaal features a wide-area networked system that the company claims can cover up to 4,000 sq. km. It harnesses 12 AI-driven proprietary modular technologies that can function independently or in synergy.

According to Grene Robotics, Indrajaal is the world’s first system of its kind, and doesn’t just detect but also identifies, classifies, tracks, and neutralises threats in real-time.

The company has claimed that Indrajaal offers protection from all kinds of autonomous drones, including low Radar Cross Section (RCS) threats, medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAVs, as well as loitering munitions, smart bombs, rocket showers, nano and micro drones, and even swarm drones.

Grene Robotics has now started showcasing its system to the armed forces.  “If the armed forces have a weapon to be integrated with the system, it can be done,” said Wing Commander Sai Malella (Retd), director of emerging technologies at Grene Robotics, speaking to ThePrint.

Here’s a look at some of the key features of Indrajaal and how it could help enhance India’s defence capabilities.

Also Read: Inside story of why India’s military worked to push mega US drone deal

 ‘Can work with bigger, longer-range radars, missiles, & weapons’

 The Indrajaal system is “sensor and weapon agnostic”, which means that it can work with a wide variety of sensors and weapons, explained Malella.

“This comes from the amount of work that we have done on our Defence Operating System (DefOs), which has been built over 10 years,” he added.

DefOs, according to the company’s website, is the “unified command and control engine” that allows different components of the Indrajaal system to detect, track, and neutralise threats.

Other elements include HiveMind, an AI computer that plans and executes missions, Zombee drones that neutralise threats, and SkyCop drones that perform surveillance operations.

While Grene Robotics is yet to develop long-range drones that can take down incoming MALE or HALE drones, Mallela said that an “interceptor drone” can reach a MALE drone. He added that the system can work in tandem with the defence establishment’s sensors and surface-to-air-missiles that usually tackle such UAVs.

 “The conventional air defences of the country handle such threats but Indrajaal as a platform is ready to integrate and work with bigger, longer-range radars, missiles and weapons,” Malella said.

Both HALE and MALE UAVs are known for their relative endurance and are used in surveillance as well as attack missions.MALE drones have an altitude ceiling of 30,000 feet, while HALE drones operate at up to 60,000 feet.

‘If they bring drones, we fight with drones’

At the Hyderabad event, Grene Robotics showcased its SkyCop drone, a quadcopter designed to safeguard airspace by detecting and mitigating the risks posed by unauthorised drones.

The company also offers the Zombee drone, a specialised drone designed to mimic the behaviour of honeybees protecting their hive. It is a fly-and-die drone that is made to go after hostile drones, and then crash and neutralise them.

Kiran Raju, Founder and CEO of Grene Robotics, spoke to ThePrint about the importance of such a system and how it stands out from other weapons that the armed forces already possess.

“So far, the forces have procured systems that focus on radar and jammers. But generally, the enemy knows the frequencies that the country looks to jam,” he said. “As we go forward, the challenges that are going to come into the future are swarm drone attacks. The only way to counter a swarm drone attack is with counter drones.”

In simple terms, Raju said, the solution that Grene is focused on offering is that if there are 10 hostile drones, there should be 10 others to counter them.

“When the adversary brings drones, we cannot fight with jammers — that’s not a sustainable solution. If they bring AI, we fight with AI. If they bring drones, we fight with drones,” he said.

Raju said at the Hyderabad event that 80 percent of Indrajaal has been made in India.

“The software and platforms are Indian made. However, certain components including intel processors have been procured from countries such as the US,” he added.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: How indigenous is ‘indigenous’ in India’s defence production? Lines are blurred in globalised world

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