One of the five youth labs inaugurated by PM Modi, the Young Scientist Lab at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hyderabad, stands apart for its path-breaking development of new-age weapon systems like 'swarm drones' that are AI-enabled and can make intelligent attacks on enemy. The DRDO youth lab led by Parvathaneni Sivaprasad is also working on 'Gun on Drone', 'Rat Cyborg', etc

Hyderabad: A huge balloon can be burst by a small needle. A bug lump of butter melts with a little heat. The same principle is followed in the development of 'swarm drones' at by the young scientists at DRDO, Hyderabad. The research is picking up momentum at the DRDO Youth Lab, one of the five labs opened by PM Modi in the country to leverage young talent in technological research.

'Asymmetric Technologies' is the core subject of research at the DRDO Young Scientist Lab- Asymmetric Technologies (DYSL-AT), Hyderabad. It is headed by Parvathaneni Sivaprasad. Their research includes development of a band of metal fireflies named 'swarm drones'. They take the lives of enemies without making any noise.

Their first invention was related to the 'drone swarms'. These are self-intelligent drones that coordinate with each other to attack the enemy as an army. In November 2021, the 'Rashtra Raksha Samarpan Parv' event organized in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, a performance by this young lab left the entire country in awe. They are working on the second product - gun on a drone, which is armed with a JVPC (Joint Venture Protective Carbine).

This drone can identify the enemy with its intelligence and fire on the target. We don't have such technology till now. Usually, when firing from the sky it is not easy for all our bullets to hit the target. If fired from helicopters, only a few bullets hit the target. But Gun on Drone is not like that. It shoots the enemy with 100% accuracy. Even if the enemy is moving around awkwardly, it will shoot down. It also has a self-intelligence called 'evading trajectory' which allows it to escape if the enemy fires back.

Apart from this, an underwater autonomous vehicle is being developed which can attack the opponent by traveling under the water instead of crawling. Also, 'Rat Cyborg' is being made. In this, the brain of the mouse is controlled and used as a surveillance tool to move around on the ground. They are focusing on future-generation weapon systems.

Swarm drones are self-operable unlike normal drones which need to be operated by someone. Swarm drones work as a team with artificial intelligence (AI) moves forward in amazing coordination. Controlling themselves like a well-trained battalion, they can launch a coordinated attack. If some of these drones are shot down in an enemy attack, the rest can change their strategy. This technology is available in only one or two countries in the world.

The lab atmosphere of this young scientists' team of DRDO is similar to a college canteen. This young team was like a start-up found in any college incubation center at DRDO, which is famous for military discipline and commitment. The goal of Prime Minister Modi who formed this youth team is that they should be free like a college student and take on new adventures intellectually.

On January 2, 2020, PM Modi formally opened five young scientist labs for the first time in the country. It was with the idea of using young minds in technological advancement and research where seniors would not be having the same zeal any more. Five labs were opened - one at IISC Bangalore on artificial intelligence, the lab at IIT-Bombay works on quantum technologies, and the lab at IIT-Madras works on cognitive technologies.

The other two labs are in Hyderabad. One of them is the Smart Materials Lab. It is located at the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) here. The second one is at DRDO. Only people below 35 years of age are being recruited from various departments of DRDO. They have to come without considering the promotions. All who work on these projects may not succeed. They are taking young scientists who are adventurous like the founders of a start-up within DRDO.

They have complete freedom here as compared to other labs. The asymmetric principle is developed to cause more damage to the enemy at a very low cost. The main objective of this team is to work in advanced technology areas like artificial intelligence and robotics to help the defence sector. It involves the creation of drones, robots, cyborgs, and network-centric weapons that can attack the enemy en masse on land, air and water.