Armed Forces and other security agencies in the country will now have enhanced hazard detection capabilities as the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) indigenous robot Daksh has not just become lighter, faster and rugged, but has also been equipped with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) hazard detection mechanisms.
Daksh, which has been developed by DRDO’s Pune-based lab Research and Development Establishment, Engineers (R&DE) located in Vishrantwadi, is primarily designed to detect and recover Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It was inducted in the Indian Army around 2011.
A senior DRDO scientist said, “When Daksh was inducted into the Army, they already had imported Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs). The performance of Daksh has been at par with the imported ones. In some aspects, it is even better. As per our information, as many of 40 IEDs have been neutralised in the insurgency-affected areas in the North-East India with the help of Daksh so far. But from the beginning, we were aware of the limitations of this robot. One of the most important was the speed, another was its weight.”
As per the information given by scientists from the R&DE, the newer version of Daksh is made of aluminium alloy as against the older version, which was made of steel. “The use of new material has not just reduced the weight but has also made it more rugged. Use of custom-made motors has increased the speed by three times as compared to the older version,” said Mridukant Pathak, a scientist with the R&DE.
The new Daksh has been integrated with DRDO’s Unmanned Areal Vehicle (UAV) Netra, and the integrated system is being called CBRN Remotely Operated Platform (ROP). “In case of a radiation hazard, the radiation detection unit fitted on Netra can be flown to the affected area. Netra model being used for this platform has an increased range of four kilometres and double the flying time. The new-age warfare will be way different from the conventional one and we need to have capabilities to detect CBRN attacks. Now that these capabilities are indigenous, we do not have depend on foreign suppliers,” said another DRDO scientist.
“This system will not just be useful for the armed forces, but also the paramilitary forces operating in areas where the nature of conflict is different. There will be demand for this new version of Daksh from the security agencies. The manufacturing of these units will be done by Pune-based Bharat Electronics Ltd and three private companies on the Transfer of Technology (ToT) basis,” said Alok Mukherjee, assistant director of the R&DE.
Jamal Khan, the Commandant of the Institute of IED Management of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) located in Talegaon near Pune said, “The faster, lighter version of the devise will definitely have an added advantage. The enhanced capabilities will certainly be useful in the backdrop of changing nature of warfare in insurgency affected areas, especially with increased threat of dirty bombs, which use radioactive material.”