Indian Army has received the first batch of indigenously designed and developed Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) 'Daksh’ which will enable the handling and clearing of improvised explosives devices (IEDs) and other hazardous objects. The ‘Daksh’ ROV or robot is developed by Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), R&DE (E), part of state-run DRDO. Indian Army stated that 'Daksh' ROV is an invaluable asset for bomb disposal units of the army as well as for anti-terrorist operations and battle field exigencies.
According to S Guruprasad, Director (R&DE Engineers), the 'Daksh' ROV is capable of climbing stairs as well as negotiating cross country terrain and has an on board shotgun for blasting through door locks and breaking the windshield to handle likely car bombs. The Daksh ROV is a compact robot on wheels which has a manipulator arm with six joints that can be extended to remotely extract IEDs, in addition to detachable X-ray equipment that can be used to confirm the presence of the explosives. The Daksh ROV can travel 500 metre from the master control station and is adept in cross-country situations as well. The operator in the vehicle has access to a portable, X-ray system, which allows him to see the insides of a bag. If a bomb is detected, the robot’s water jet disruptor can be activated to diffuse it immediately. The ROV has undergone trials prior to the limited series production.
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that Indian Army is interested in acquiring 100 more units of the Daksh ROV. The Indian Army has even conducted a comparison trial with a UK-made robot and deemed that the Daksh was superior on 20 counts, making the Indian Army extremely enthusiastic. Each Daksh ROV costs Rs 1.7 crore a piece which is half the cost of imported robots. The Indian Army gave DRDO the bulk production clearance for 20 units of Daksh in September 2011. The Army had also given suggestions relating to battery life, carrier vehicle, cameras on front as well as back side besides others- which have been incorporated in the final product.
As for the future versions of Daksh ROV, these will be equipped with night vision devices, increased battery life and the capabilities to survey Nuclear Biological chemical (NBC) contaminated area. Apparently, a gun mounted version of the robot has also been under development at the R&DE laboratory in Pune.
The Daksh ROV is India’s first indigenous robot and R&DE has transferred the technology to three Pune-based companies, Messrs Dynalog, Theta Controls and Bharat Electronics, which are in a position to manufacture and sell the equipment with a specified royalty to be paid to the DRDO. Daksh ROV can be easily serviced and repaired in India. The development of Daksh robot was also assisted by the private sector and will go a long way in creating a strong industrial base for robotics.