In a big boost to the ‘Self Reliant India’ campaign, the Indian Navy signed a Rs 13 crore contract to procure the country’s first indigenously developed Robotic Lifebuoys. The contract was bagged by a startup — Saif Seas — based in Visakhapatnam. Robot lifebuoys are autonomous and are fitted out with sensors and electronic equipment that allow them to locate a stranded person in the water, and head out to them automatically.
In India, it has been developed under the Innovations For Defence Excellence (iDEX) challenge “Unmanned Surface Vehicles”. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar appreciated the efforts of iDEX. He said, “IDEX is revolutionising Defence innovation — creating new tech solutions in a fraction of cost and fraction of time.” He termed the development of indigenously developed Robotic LifebuoysAas “the great success story of Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India)”.
Saif Seas promoter Aliasagar Calcuttawala said on social media after winning the challenge, “IDEX has provided us with a launchpad to launch into the higher orbit of success.” He said, “The whole thought process of IDEX and the programme is not just to develop prototypes suitable for use in the Indian Defence Industry, but to develop defence innovation partners and defence industry with the help of startups, aiming towards more of Make in India.”
On August 19, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched Defence India Startup Challenge 5 under iDEX leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India’s defence technologies, equipment design and manufacturing capabilities. iDEX provides a platform for different stakeholders in the defence and aerospace sectors, essentially acting as an umbrella organisation to oversee technology development and potential collaborations in the specific field, the defence ministry had stated. The areas where challenges were thrown such as Situational awareness, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Aircraft-trainer, Non-lethal devices, 5G network, Underwater domain awareness, Drone SWARMS and Data Capturing. The problem statements, designed to ensure military advantage in the foreseeable future, are the highest in any edition, so far.