New Delhi: Nearly nine months after it demonstrated the swarm drones concept during the Army Day parade here on Jan. 15, a Bengaluru-based startup has bagged a $15-million order to supply 100 units of the system earlier this week.
This is the first such purchase for swarm drone system that is being raved about in drone ecosystem globally.
Newspace Research and Technologies Private Limited bagged the order, done under the Indian Army‘s emergency fast-track procurement rules that are in place since the Sino-Indian military conflict in Ladakh that began in May last year.
The army intends to use these new drones from Newspace Research and Technologies to develop swarming concept of operations as well as explore technologies like manned-unmanned teaming, with an emphasis on learning lessons to help design future swarming systems, media reports said.
The demonstration of Chinese swarm drone capabilities are likely to have played a frontal role in compelling an emergency procurement, it said. The Army Design Bureau also played a key role in the evaluation and procurement of the drones from Newspace.
Post lessons learnt from deployment of this first lot of swarm drones from the startup, a larger capital acquisition of similar system, which embrace autonomous and Artificial Intelligence-powered algorithms to mimic biological behaviour of animals and birds.
Newspace Research and Technologies, a startup founded by an Indian Air Force veteran, is working with the armed forces, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and other agencies in a slew of unmanned system and artificial intelligence training programmes. The startup stood first in army’s swarm drone evaluation trials at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra earlier this year.
India’s Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, an Indian Institute of Technology-educated administrative service officer, congratulated the Indian Army and Newspace Research and Technologies on the contract. “India becomes one of the few countries, where armed forces have domestic swarm drones. Indian startups (are) bridging (the) gap between leading tech & India,” he tweeted.