Since the dawn of civilizations, humans have endeavoured to be in control of their environments and surroundings. This quest resulted in many discoveries and inventions, most notably among them are machines. Human used machines as an aid to make one’s life comfortable, effective and efficient and aimed to develop machines capable of working like human beings, if possible. Computer is one of the most important machines which has not only raised hopes in this regard but has also contributed significantly in every sphere of human endeavour.
Artificial intelligence (AI) also known as machine intelligence (MI) is intellect displayed by computer system (or machine), in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. Computer science defines AI research as the study of ‘intelligent agents’: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. There is no one commonly decided definition, even among computer scientists and engineers, but a general definition of AI is the capability of a machine to perform tasks that normally require human intellect, such as visual perception, speech recognition and decision-making.
Many modern military across the world are already using AI. In future military conflicts, norm of engagement will be to act rapidly. Military forces will be both faster and agile. Opponents will take advantage by operating faster than a defender can observe, orient, decide how to respond and act on that decision. The attacker will thus place himself inside the defenders Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) loop, destroying an adversary’s ability to conduct an active defence .
To execute the OODA process faster than the enemy is at the core concept of future digital and information warfare. Automated systems, assisted by artificial intelligence in some form or the other, may be a way out for this problem. The advances gained in the field of artificial intelligence technology can be utilized by unmanned systems to be able to assess operational and tactical situations and decide an appropriate action. Information will drive success of command and control. These systems will collect data, have the ability to analyze data and provide recommendations to the commander. The difference between providing a recommendation and acting on a recommendation may be only a software twist.
AI methodologies are being applied to support decision making at all levels of military operations such as assessment of force readiness, reliability and capability, complex missions planning and integration of data from multiple sources my many modern militaries. Research in the field of AI is also addressing the challenges presented by supporting such decision making in rapidly changing environments. The use of such technology opens up endless possibilities in the military.
As the second biggest ‘player’ in general-purpose AI China is increasingly showing that it is more than capable of keeping pace with the US in this field. In 2016, the Chinese government announced plans to develop a 100 billion RMB($15 billion) AI market by 2018.
The PLA has established an Intelligent Unmanned Systems and Systems of Systems Science and Technology Domain Expert Group, and has invested in and field-tested intelligent unmanned vessels for reconnaissance missions and to reinforce the PLA Navy’s ability to monitor and establish a presence in disputed waters. The PLA has also made breakthroughs in UAV swarming and command and control, and even explored the role of intelligentized command and control within a joint operations command system.
Chinese missile technology aims to be capable of autonomously following waypoints, avoiding engagement range of non-target ships, and optimizing strike location for maximum lethality. China is working on utilizing AI to empower the flight guidance and target recognition systems in new generations of its own cruise missiles. This could enhance their operational versatility, allowing commanders to tailor missiles to specific and rapidly altering battlefield conditions. This, Chinese officials hope, may enable and strengthen a doctrine known as ‘remote warfare’.
Israel was one of the first countries to reveal that it has deployed fully automated robots:self-driving military vehicles to patrol the border with the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip. Next in the IDF’s plans is to equip the vehicles with weapons, and deploy them in stages to Israel’s frontiers with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Israeli ‘Harpy’anti-radiation unmanned aerial vehicle is claimed to already able to detect, target, and engage enemy radar installations without any human oversight or supervision. Further in the future, the military is looking to form mixed combat units of robotic vehicles and human soldiers.
Israel has developed an automated system, called Automated Decision Making (ADM), that employs artificial intelligence and robotics to sift through the data and respond to it instantly in the age of big data.
Also in the field of combat simulation, Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd produces a Command and Staff Trainer (CST) that simulates a range of joint operations. Israel’s prowess in AI is widely acknowledged, however, also stimulated by the many startups that emerge in the IDF’s ecosystem.
While still somewhat lagging behind on its great power rivals in terms of deep machine learning capabilities, the Russian Federation has displayed a steady commitment to developing and deploying a wide range of robotic military platforms, including unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). In January 2017, President Putin called for the creation of “autonomous robotic complexes” for use by the military. In August 2016, in an exercise at the Nizhniy Tagil training range an unmanned helicopter quickly detected a concealed ‘enemy’, issued a command to a tracked ‘terminator-robot’ armoured vehicle named ‘Nerekhta’ armed with missiles and machine guns that deployed to a firing position, made its own decisions about what would be best to use in a given situation to destroy the targets, and accomplished the mission of destroying the ‘enemy’ successfully.
While most Russian robotic UGVs are still in development and testing stages, a number of them have actually seen active combat service: the Uran-6 demining robot saw use by Russian forces operating in Syria, amongst others for clearing Palmyra of booby traps and IEDs left behind by ISIS forces. Similarly, the ‘Platforma-M’ reconnaissance UGV, developed by the ‘Progress’ Science and Technical Institute, is currently deployed with the Russian Pacific Fleet. The heavy ‘Udar’ UGV, unveiled in 2015, comes in combat, engineering support, and transportation versions, and has been built on the existing frame of the BMP-3 armored vehicle, in order to ease the maintenance and repair of the system.
Finally, Russia’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (OPK) is working on using AI systems for border protection, developing a system which will automatically interact with video cameras, infrared and seismic sensors, radars and drones, in order to monitor and observe any type of violations. In addition, the new system, to be deployed on Russia’s Eastern and Southern borders, is intended not only to collect different types of information, but also contains elements of artificial intelligence which will allow for analysis and forecasting of the situation and work out proposals for the protection of borders, by calculating steps and routes that offenders may take, as well as the necessary measures to prevent malicious acts, including the assessment of possible risks.
As of yet the most prominent actor in the field of military AI, the United States has been actively involved in AI-related R&D since its very emergence of the field. One well-known driver of the US’s commitment to developing these systems is their extensive military experience, over the last two decades, with drone systems. As a result of this experience, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan, US spending on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) grew tenfold, from $283 million in 2000 to $2.9bn in 2016. The Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget request included $12-15 billion to fund war gaming and the demonstration of new technologies – including wearable electronics, exoskeletons, autonomous weapons and unmanned aircraft drone mother ships and deep-learningmachines – which could ensure a continued military edge over great powers such as China and Russia.
As per Robert Work, the then-US deputy secretary of defense in 2015, work in AI identified five pillars to the military future:
India certainly has the talent and expertise to be an AI power. It produced 643 widely-cited AI research papers in 2015, behind only the United States and China, and churned out 2.6 million STEM graduates in 2016. Despite this, until quite recently AI research in the country was primarily housed in universities, namely the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and was focused on fintech and industrial applications.
The turning point came in 2018, when the Indian government established a national program on artificial intelligence during the Union budget session. The immediate driver of this policy was China’s AI Strategy, released in July 2017, which laid out a comprehensive national-level plan to make China the global leader in AI. Currently India faces following major challenges in AI development and application:
While there is no official military strategy document on the uses of AI in the battlefield yet, there are several potential applications that, as Shashank Reddy of Carnegie India puts it, are “low-hanging fruit.” Among these applications are logistics and supply-chain management, cyber operations, and intelligence and reconnaissance.
R&D on defense applications of AI is conducted under the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), established by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in 1986. In the three decades since, CAIR has worked on building integrated, networked information systems, data mining tools, robotics, and other AI-enabled products for the Indian military.
AI would greatly improve the ability of Indian forces to secure the 8,600 miles of land borders it shares with other countries. For instance, Border Security Force (BSF) is working on a pilot program called the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS), which would put in a place an electronic surveillance system monitored by BSF personnel. Integrating AI-enabled image recognition and automated alerts into the system would greatly aid in the speed and efficiency of a BSF response.
Another practical application of AI is in improving battlefield operations using all-terrain reconnaissance. In February 2018, the DRDO successfully tested the Rustom 2 UAV, and is reportedly developing a “Multi Agent Robotics Framework” (MARF), a system that will enable the Indian Army’s many battlefield robots to collaborate with each other on surveillance and reconnaissance. The DRDO is also developing Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNe) UAVs to detect radiation, as well as Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for surveillance and IED disposal.
For India, AI could be both a means of modernizing domestically, as well as establishing itself as a major exporter of AI-enabled products. To do so, it is working to build bilateral partnerships with science and technology leaders. For instance, Japan’s national security advisor recently announced a partnership with India on the development of unmanned ground vehicles and robotics. Additionally, in April 2018, India’s Mahindra Defense announced a partnership with Israeli drone-maker Aeronautics Ltd. to build unmanned underwater vehicles for the Indian Navy.
India is at a pivotal juncture where the implementation of effective AI R&D programs are essential to helping it keep pace with the rest of the world.
CAIR has developed and provided a number of technological solutions/ products for the defence mainly related to communications, decision support sys and surveillance. Some of these products are:
CAIR has developed families of robots for various surveillance / reconnaissance applications as listed below:
The Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) established on the in-house tracked test-platform was ported to the teleported BMP-II and successful summer tests were conducted at the Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR).
This robot can be used for patrolling inside any campus in an urban scenario.
The Autonomous Search Robot can perform 3D mapping of an indoor area on its own. In addition to localization, mapping, and path planning, it employs an exploration algorithm which searches for all unknown areas until they have been mapped. Apart from a LiDAR, it uses a RGB-D sensor for 3D depth data capture. With the help of these sensors this robot can indentify 3D obstacles and avoid them during navigation. It can continuously create a 3D map of the indoor scene, which is displayed on a remote user device. The user can select an object to be searched, which are then marked by the robot when they are found in the scene. It uses algorithms for object detection to perform the search. The user can fly through the map and interactively locate searched objects in the map.
The Autonomous Search Robot is useful for indoor counter insurgency operations, search and rescue operations, and remote mapping of indoor environments with NBC hazard, when mounted with a NBC sensor.
The MINIUGV is a remotely controlled, man portable, tracked robot, for surveillance and reconnaissance in low intensity conflict operations in an urban scenario
The MINIMULE (Miniature Multifunction Utility Logistics Equipment) is a preliminary proof of concept of hybrid locomotion mechanisms. The robot has four legs and actuated
wheels instead of feet.
This robot demonstrates concepts of whole body locomotion. The snake robot has 14 active joints. Lateral undulation, side winding, and rolling gaits have been implemented on this robot. A color camera mounted in the hood of this robot provides video feedback.
The wall climbing robot is a miniature tracked robot capable of climbing vertical walls. It uses an impeller to generate suction to adhere to walls. It has an onboard colour camera for video feedback. The camera is mounted on pan-tilt unit.
This is a miniature six legged robot with three degree of freedom to each leg for enabling motion in any direction
Future Scope of development for Corps of Engineers:
The field of artificial intelligence (AI) has made tremendous advances in the last few decades, but as smart as AI is now, it is getting exponentially smarter and becoming more autonomous in its actions. This raises a host of challenges . Can a machine solve any problem that a human being can solve using intelligence? Or are there hard limits to what a machine can accomplish?
Are intelligent machines dangerous? How can we ensure that machines behave ethically and that they are used ethically?
Can a machine have a mind, consciousness and mental states in exactly the same sense that human beings do? Can a machine be sentient, and thus deserve certain rights? Can a machine intentionally cause harm? These questions need to be well thought of before getting into use of autonomous robots as modern armies.
There is a need to set up a working group on legal questions related to the development of Artificial Intelligence. This group will be responsible for drafting civil and military law rules in connection with research in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. This group will facilitate the exchange of information and views between experts from academics and corporate, to the members in order to enable them to conduct a thorough analysis of the challenges which might be brought by the development of AI and Robotics. Inputs from working groups will be put forward to create a foundation for the legislation on the subject.
The locus of innovation for development of AI can be seen more for private sector compared to armed forces. The govt should facilitate to create closer partnership. The govt should create a working group involving military and technical experts, including from the private sector, national laboratories, and service research laboratories, to explore potential areas of the military employment of AI. This partnership would augment rapid development of AI suiting best requirement of Armed Forces.
AI is definitely providing us an easy life with efficiency at work but It seems that we are standing at the point on the timeline where it is really difficult to foresee the future of humanity in the context of Artificial Intelligence. We always embrace new technologies which seemed to be changing our way of living. However, the important fact here is that the kind of change we are embracing must bring a positive outcome for the welfare of society and eventually of humanity. Artificial intelligence is the kind of change which we certainly should not take for granted. It is different than any other technology which humanity has ever developed and the fact which makes it unique is its ability to act autonomously. It is the change which not only starts exhibiting soon its positive impact on society but severely negative impacts, too. So, if we are embracing it as a change which is expected to change the way we live, then we should be happily ready to face the consequences whether it is related to employment, privacy, or eventually the very existence of
humanity. However, whatever the case will eventually be, we certainly need a legal policy framework which can make sure to mitigate the challenges associated with AI and compensate the affected parties in case of a fatal error. And it will always be important not to ignore social bugs of AI, as it could be a serious threat to humanity.