Defence Ministry’s iDEX Supported Startup To Equip Indian Army with Quantum Communication Tech
Back in year 2020, in the month of December, a quantum-powered secure communication underwent trials between two physically distant DRDO labs and the milestone was achieved as the secures quantum communication was successfully established in the presence of Defence minister of India.
The technology called “Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)” has been developed by DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) and DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory (DYSL-CT).
While CAIR is a premier laboratory of DRDO involved in the Research & Development of high quality Secure Communication, Command and Control, and Intelligent System, DYSL-CT with emphasis on Cognitive technologies, works in the area of design and development of Cognitive Radio and Cognitive Radar Systems, realising through Deep Neural Networks and Reinforcement learning algorithms.
DRDO developed this technology to enable startups and SMEs in the domain of Quantum information technologies, as one of the objectives. The quantum tech will also serve to define standards and crypto policies that can leverage QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework for more secure and pragmatic key management for current and future military cryptographic systems.
Now after two odd-years, QNu Labs, a Bengaluru-based Deep Tech Start-up, has broken distance barriers by innovating advanced secured communication through Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) systems. The project was curated by iDEX-DIO with Indian Army.
After the successful trials, now the Indian Army has initiated the process of procurement of QKD systems developed by QNu Labs by issuing commercial Request For Proposal (RFP) and its deployment.
QNu Labs is touted as the first India company to successfully develop commercial cybersecurity products using quantum physics. It also has a subsidiary in the United States called QNu Labs Inc, which was set up in Massachusetts, back in year-2019.
Quantum technology has a huge potential for military application and a disruptive impact on modern-day warfare. A QKD system allows creation of a quantum secure secret pair of symmetric keys between two end points, separated by certain distance (in this case, over 150 Kms) in terrestrial optical fiber infrastructure. The QKD helps create a non-hackable quantum channel for creating un-hackable encryption keys which are used to encrypt critical data/voice/video, across the end points.
Buoyed with the success of the start-up, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar termed the development of indigenously QKD technology as a milestone achievement in ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal’ and a befitting success story of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. He appreciated the efforts of iDEX start-ups working in deep tech as they are equipping the Armed Forces with innovative solutions for modern and futuristic warfare.
The Defence Secretary also applauded the efforts of the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence, iDEX-DIO, Army Design Bureau and the Indian Army Signals Directorate, which have contributed in development of high end Quantum Technology in the country for the first time. He added that iDEX revolutionises the defence innovation and helps foster creation of new tech solutions at a fraction of cost and time.
QNu Labs’ co-founder and CEO Shri Sunil Gupta stated that the vision of putting India on the forefront of deep technologies in the field of data security through the use of Quantum technology has finally borne fruits. He added that winning the Open Challenge-2 of iDEX has provided a launching pad to QNu Labs to achieve this stellar success.
Earlier in February this year, in a major breakthrough for India, scientists from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), both from the city of Ahmedabad, have jointly demonstrated quantum entanglement based real time Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) over 300m atmospheric channel along with quantum-secure text, image transmission and quantum-assisted two-way video calling.
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