A group of students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Madras, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology for predicting crowd behaviour and offered it to the Indian Army for possible use in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with stone pelters who attack security forces. “Using action recognition algorithms, crowd density maps and analysis of live images coming in from CCTV cameras, it is possible to predict abnormal events including stone pelting. We think it could help the Indian Army that faces such attacks regularly in J&K,” said S Raghav Vaidyanathan, student executive head, Centre for Innovation, IIT-Madras.
Stone pelters have interfered in army operations in Kashmir, seeking to distract their attention to help militant gunmen escape. Four IIT students involved in the crowd analysis project recently travelled to Delhi from Chennai to take part in the Army Technology Seminar-2019, an army initiative that seeks to bring the military, academia and industry on a common platform to find indigenous solutions to the force’s requirements.
The Army Design Bureau, inaugurated in August 2016, is the force behind the initiative. It has been tasked with promoting research and development and acting as a bridge between the army and the private sector to meet the army’s requirements. “The academia and industry keep coming up with innovations. Some of these have already been adopted and others are being considered or tested. Out of the 130 problem statements identified by us, we have received responses to about 100,” said an official.
The crowd analysis project seems to be interesting but how exactly it can be employed on the ground and how effective it could be needs to be examined, said a colonel who attended the seminar. Raghav said a team of army officers is likely to visit Chennai soon to figure out what solutions the IIT’s Centre for Innovation had to offer the force. Former army vice-chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (Retd) said innovative solutions such as AI-assisted prediction of crowd behaviour could be tried out in J&K where the situation is most difficult. “Such innovations could lead to a good solution in the long term.” Other IITs have also come up with solutions to the army’s problems. For instance, IIT-Delhi has developed hygiene products that will allow soldiers deployed on the Siachen glacier to clean themselves properly.