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DRDO to Review Research for Defence Applications at IITs and NITs

A meeting is scheduled to take place in New Delhi with the directors and officials of Ministry of Human Resource Development, will take stock of things and will plan the way ahead on research with defence applications.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:November 2, 2019, 9:14 AM IST
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DRDO to Review Research for Defence Applications at IITs and NITs
(Image courtesy: DRDO website)

New Delhi: the Defence Research and Developmental Organisation will take take stock of research in select Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and National Institute of Technology (NITs) that can have defence application on November 13.

The meeting, which is scheduled to take place in New Delhi with the directors and officials of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), will take stock of things and will plan the way ahead on research with defence applications.

“The DRDO would take stock of defense related research in IITs and NITs and also chart the future course of action in encouraging research on national security. The DRDO interest in IITs is not new there have been earlier collaborations but now it is more coordinated.” sources in MHRD said.

The letter marked to some IIT directors has asked them to present new research ideas which have defense applications. “We just know that we have to present new ideas on research that can be used in defense. I don’t see there is any problem here – We need to come together to develop defense technology that even the world becomes our audience. Our different departments have produced interesting products that have defense application, and will be reviewed in the meeting,” said one of the directors at IIT said on the condition of anonymity.

Unlike in the past, the collaboration with the DRDO, which was more on the line of blue sky projects (no real world applications), is more focused on deliverables and looking for collaboration beyond five years.

Some offerings from IITs

As reported in the past IIT Ropar has designed helmets for surgical strikes and Artificial Intelligence in Defense.

Joint Advanced Technology Centre has been set up by DRDO at IIT Delhi. News18.com has learnt that DRDO has committed Rs 300 crore for research to the institute.

The IIT Delhi website reads, “It is for making pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security using capabilities of potential researchers amongst IIT Delhi academia. It will generate an innovation ecosystem that includes academia, industry and DRDO partners, with a constant focus on the Nation’s military futuristic requirements.”

The verticals in IIT Delhi are neatly marked under different categories. On the industry day IIT Delhi showcased some of the defence related research. The work in IIT Delhi is afoot in collaboration DRDO on making lighter bullet proof jackets, and boots that can absorb shock in harsh terrain.

Under the “Advanced Electromagnetic Devices and Terahertz (EMDTERA)” the research would address the needs for advanced imaging, sensing and communication technologies using THz and RF MEMS based higher bandwidth communication technologies and subsystems relevant to defence and security.

The vertical Advanced Ballistics, Special Structure and Protection Technologies’ (ABSSP), major objective is the development of lightweight body armor system for high threat level protection.

The research of Smart and Intelligent Textile (SITEX) shall mainly focus upon the creation of technologies and products for specified defence applications which are based primarily on textiles as the major component.

The remaining two verticals on Photonics and Brain Computer Interface & Brain Machine Intelligence are in the process of research articulation and approval.

In IIT Madras the researchers refused to delve in the specific projects but shred the areas in which defence related research in collaboration with DRDO is taking place – There will be Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Advanced and Nano-material. The IIT Madras is also working on building start-ups for defense need.

The institute will host a defense tech summit - Shaastra in 2020. The students have adopted defense as the theme for their flagship summit since the "national discourse is being dominated by Defense and Defense Technology."

The collaboration of IITs and Defence was very close to the late Minister of Defence Manohar Parriker who wanted DRDO to more closely interact with IITs especially Bombay, Madras and Jadhavpur among other.

Past and Present

Prof V Kamakoti, professor in Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Madras said, “The memorandum of collaboration signed in 2001 with IIT Madras was on blue sky research. That kind of research is still on but there is lot of emphasis on clear cut deliverable, there is more work on on real world application.

“The most important thing is to have indigenous defence technology – we should know what is in the inside of the thing we have made. The confluence of academia and defence is one way of building on research for defence,” he added.

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