Robots To Supply Troops In Tough Terrains

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New Delhi: Soon technology will be doing all the heavy lifting at remote Army outposts. Army Headquarters has come up with an ambitious project to design load-carrying robots to supply rations and ammunition to soldiers at inaccessible posts, where the threat to life from inhospitable weather conditions and enemy action is the highest.

Citing the ongoing system of replenishment for Indian Army posts as ‘probe to enemy action’, the machine-men, capable of carrying over 50 kg under -50 degree Celsius conditions will make a difference.

They can operate at high altitudes of 21,000 feet and are also capable of tackling inclines of over 85 degrees in the snow-laden mountains, where tracks are washed away often by rain and sleet.

A large section of the Army is deployed in high altitude areas along the western and northern borders, including the Siachen glacier. Deployment areas located on mountaintops and on the forward slopes are inaccessible by road and tracks. The deadline has been set at three to four years to complete the ambitious project.

Taking cues from some Western forces, the Indian Army plans to develop robots to supply its forward posts in inaccessible areas by 2020. Currently troops, porters, and in some cases helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft handle the logistics. Mules are also used. The Army’s transport directorate employs around 12,000 porters and nearly 5,000 mules.

“This system is time consuming, dependent on fair weather conditions and results in troops’ exhaustion, reducing their operational efficiency. They are prone to enemy action as well,” said a note prepared by the Army.

The robots can work in snow, sleet, fog and windy conditions with minimal visibility and can also be used to observe enemy activity, said the proposal.

“Such robots will reduce the stress on troops since these robots will be able to negotiate ice walls and be capable of using fixed ropes to climb up the steep gradients in mountainous terrain. This will ensure logistic supply to remotely located inaccessible posts is not dependent on weather condition and enemy action,” it said.

Said an officer who served at in the Siachen glacier, “Neither aircraft or choppers can fly under hostile weather conditions nor can animal transport take rations to inaccessible posts in high altitude areas. If we manage to develop robots for such purposes, it will certainly be a great achievement,” he added.

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