The Indian Navy has always been a champion of indigenisation and has led the three Services when it comes to ‘Make in India’. The ‘Innovation and Indigenisation’ pavilion put up for the Navy Day this year stood out in many respects.
In addition to many start-ups and MSMEs which displayed the sterling indigenisation efforts spearheaded by the Navy, what caught attention was how the naval community itself has come together to solve problems which outside agencies can’t or won’t solve. These were not limited to minor modifications or innovations which are expected from the users, but indeed world class products which are way ahead of comparable products in the global arena – or some which have no comparable products at all.
Leading the innovation pavilion in the very first stall was Commodore Arun Golaya, a serving Naval officer currently pursuing his doctoral research from TERI School of Advanced Studies. He along with his PhD guide, Dr Yogeshwaran Nithiyanandam, displayed an advanced ship detection algorithm which can automatically detect ships even from low-resolution satellite imagery. The software, named ‘PALLAVI’, is an acronym for ‘Precision Algorithm Leveraging Logical Analysis of Varied Inputs’. “It is just a coincidence that my younger daughter’s name is Pallavi”, said the officer with a mischievous grin.
The software demonstrated was able to extract positions of ships, and even small boats lesser than a single pixel in the image, in a matter of seconds. The unique feature being that even low-resolution wide-swath satellite imagery can be used such that vast ocean spaces can be covered in an instant. Such a system is reportedly currently unparalleled in the world.
Weapons and Electronics Systems Engineering Department (WESEE), the Indian Navy’s in-house research arm next displayed many cutting edge products, including indigenous Weapon Control Systems, which have been developed to substitute imports. These have been developed in-house at a fraction of the import costs.
Retired Naval officers, Commanders Chandel and Chandra are heading their own defence start-ups after leaving the Navy. Being well aware of the user requirements, the officers have been able to develop products that the Navy actually needs. On display were advanced conformal antennas, submarine masts, periscopes and spread spectrum communication devices.
“This would enable users to communicate messages and exchange positions using a normal mobile phone even in the absence of mobile connectivity” explained CommanderChandel displaying a device smaller than a few inches. He added that ranges in excess of 40 km have been demonstrated when tracking helicopters using the technology. Implications go much beyond the Navy and the device can easily be used for civil applications – including at the time of natural disasters when mobile connectivity may be affected.
Other Services will benefit as well, especially in remote posts where connectivity is a problem. To enhance the communication range even further, a small tethered drone was demonstrated which can be used to increase the range of the communication device.
CaptainNikunjParashar, a retired Merchant Navy officer, has manufactured the tethered drone which can fly virtually endlessly as the power supply is fed to the drone using a small cable from the ground. He proudly said that his father had retired from the Indian Navy many years back and that his association with the Navy has continued.
In addition to drones, their firm manufactures fully autonomous unmanned boats and control systems. A unique ‘boat-in-a-box’ concept can transform any boat for autonomous operations by fitment of a fly-away control kit. In addition to meeting the needs of the Indian Navy, the product has already been exported to many countries.
The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the innovations proudly shown by the Chief of Naval Staff. Self-reliance for self-reliance appears to be the emerging Naval mantra.
Captain D K Sharma (Retd)