Announcing the winners of the Defence India Startup Challenge, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hinted that the funding for developing prototypes could be increased from the current grant of Rs 1.5 crore each as the government is focusing on promoting indigenous design and development.
The list of winners, who will be given time to develop a prototype and present a procurement case for the armed forces, gives a peek into India’s military modernisation plan, which ranges from smart weapon systems to application of artificial intelligence in various roles and innovative force multipliers.
Among the projects mentioned by the minister at the awards ceremony were robotics in maritime applications by Lieutenant Deepak Suman Kumar, wall penetrating radar by Major Anoop Mishra and a high-altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS) by Sameer Joshi.
“Attaining self-reliance in defence manufacturing is a crucial factor for maintaining India’s strategic autonomy. The iDEX initiative stands out as one of the most effective and well-executed defence startup ecosystems created in our country,” Singh said.
The ministry selected six projects that the armed forces would require in the future for its startup challenge. These ranged from reduction of radar signatures of warships, AI-based satellite imagery interpretation, foliage penetrating radars and underwater swarm drones.
In the open challenge, where startups had been invited to present their ideas and concepts to the armed forces, the technologies selected include smart loitering munitions—short endurance suicide drones that can identify, target and strike at a time of choice. A long-endurance aerial surveillance platform—designed to give the forces an unlimited eye on the border—has also been selected. The high-altitude pseudo satellite project selected is a very high-altitude drone that can stay in the air for weeks with a payload of spy equipment, out of range of enemy surface-to-air systems.