From underwater swarm drones to fire-fighting robots, Navy partnering with MSMEs & start-ups for niche techs

From autonomous weaponized swarms and underwater swarm drones to blue-green lasers, fire-fighting robots and suits, the Navy is firmly pushing ahead with the indigenous development of niche technologies by partnering with start-ups and MSMEs under its `Swavlamban’ initiative launched last year reported TOI.

“Swavlamban aims to collaborate, coordinate, and develop new niche technologies in partnership. Acceleration has been achieved not only in technology development, but also in procurement,” Navy vice chief Vice Admiral S J Singh said on Wednesday.

“We have obtained AoNs (acceptance of necessity) for 12 such cases, worth close to Rs 1,500 crores, with procurement orders for products worth Rs 200 crore already been signed. In the coming weeks, we are looking to conclude many more such contracts,” he added.

Many products or prototypes developed primarily through the SPRINT (supporting pole-vaulting in R&D through innovation for defence excellence) challenge will be displayed at the second Swavlamban seminar-cum-exhibition at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on October 4-5. The Navy will also unveil an updated new indigenisation roadmap titled ‘Swavlamban 2.0’ during the event.

One of the products is the fire-fighting robot, which underwent trials on board new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, and is designed to detect the seat of fire and then extinguish it with water or foam jets, keeping sailors away from any danger.

Last year, in the presence of PM Narendra Modi, the Navy had committed to developing at least 75 niche technologies or products under the Swavlamban initiative. The force received 1,106 proposals from start-ups and MSMEs, of which 118 firms were eventually declared winners.

“The aim of developing at least 75 technologies/products has not only been met but surpassed. Interestingly, close to 100 new firms have now been brought into the defence eco-system for the very first time. I can say with confidence that the Swavlamban initiative has now gained critical mass, and is gathering continuous momentum,” Vice Admiral Singh said.

“Atmanirbharta has always been a core outlook of the Navy. Through the last 76 years, we have sought to maximise our indigenous capabilities. This has been accorded a greater thrust in recent years, and has been rendered of higher importance in the prevailing geostrategic environment,” he added.