BEL to Invest Rs 40-50 Crore Per Annum on AI-Related Projects

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Currently, BEL does not have any orders for AI and is developing AI-enabled products with its own internal investment

With the government making it mandatory for defence PSUs to focus on artificial intelligence (AI), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is planning to invest about Rs. 40-50 crore per annum on AI-related projects in the coming three years, reported ToI, citing Gowthama MV, CMD, BEL as saying.

From the start of current financial year, the Central Government has made it mandatory for all the defence PSUs to start projects related to AI, as part of its efforts to improve defence capabilities of the country by inducting state-of-the-art equipment.

“The Ministry of Defence has made it clear that this year onwards all defence PSUs must focus on tapping potential business in the area of AI. Every year, we sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of India on performance targets,” Gowthama said.

“Now, as part of this MoU, we have taken up the challenge to bring out AI-enabled products in the current financial year,” he added.

Key projects involving AI

Presently, the defence PSU is working on five major AI-related projects including facial recognition for security applications, social networking analysis, IoT-based platform maintenance and robotics surveillance platform.

Gowthama further informed that BEL does not have any orders for AI currently. The organisation is developing AI-enabled products with its own internal investment. These products shall undergo internal testing by the end of this year and later these will be demonstrated for feedback to the users.

“Some of these systems such as facial recognition may not need much infrastructure investment. However, IoT based systems require networkable hardware,” he added.

In order to realise the potential of AI, the Ministry of Defence had set up a multi-stakeholder committee in June 2018, under the Chairmanship of N Chandrasekaran, Chairman at Tata Sons. The purpose of committee is to study the entire range of issues surrounding strategic implications of AI from the perspective in national security, in the global context. The committee is represented by members from the Government, services, industry professionals, academia and start-ups.

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