July 25, 2022

Unmanned robot dog, future-proofed crypto chips: Homegrown defence tech innovations

By brit

SINGAPORE – From a future-proofed cryptography chip to artificial intelligence (AI) models that can detect unknown malware, these are some of the latest defence technology projects the DSO National Laboratories is working on to guard against future threats.

They were unveiled in a recent exhibition at the DSO Complex to mark the defence research and development organisation’s 50th anniversary.

Autonomous robot dog can team up with other bots for surveillance

Surveillance of unknown areas, especially urban environments, can be made safer and more efficient in the future with the use of robots such as the four-legged Harrier.

The unmanned vehicle, which resembles a dog, can navigate tight spaces and climb stairs while generating 3D maps of its environment in real time.

It is also able to operate in areas which do not have access to the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The key innovation lies in the “brains” of the Harrier, called the autonomy payload kit, developed by a team led by robotics system engineer Elaina Koh, 37.

Ms Koh said the team from DSO is working on enhancing the robot’s intelligence so that it can better respond to changing situations in the environment.

“Let’s say there is one entrance that is blocked in the unknown area. With upgraded intelligence, the Harrier will know how to find an alternative route to get to the destination,” she said.

The Harrier can also team up with other robots, such as the Foxhound – a larger unmanned vehicle on wheels – to explore areas without the need for operator control.

Both robots can complement each other, said Ms Koh.

The Foxhound, which has more power and computing capacity, can store information fed to it by the Harrier, for instance. But the Harrier, being smaller, can manoeuvre more easily in indoor areas.

While the DSO team is currently experimenting with teams of two or three robots, “in the future, we are thinking of scaling it up to maybe five, six, or even 10”, added Ms Koh.