Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Everybody was happy when the Indian army did a surgical strike, but not everyone knows that a Bengaluru based start-up company had a big role in it. The name of this start-up is Tonbo Imaging, the company built the night vision system that guided the surgical strikes.

The Night Vision technology from Tonbo is one of the most advanced techs. The company also creates Artificial intelligence, it is really helpful when it comes to decision making and fire control.  Its infrared seekers guide weapons to lock on targets more than 1km away; smart cameras record the action and a secure, wireless communication system relays it back to base.

The company not only provides its equipment to the Indian defense ministry, but it is the eyes and ears of US Special Forces and Israeli Army. In fact, Tombo came in the eyes of defence ministry during a joint exercise with NATO eight years ago.

“This came from an engineering center in Bengaluru, they told the Indians. That’s when the army reached out to us. Five countries were buying our tech before India bought from us,” recalls Arvind Lakshmikumar, founder and CEO of Tonbo Imaging. The company now sells to defense forces in 25 countries, as well as Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Besides armies, defense giants like Excelitas and Beretta buy its systems and software. The startup has raised over 200 crores in funding, showing that venture capital investors are also buying Tonbo’s vision.

While words strongest armies have the most advanced tech, India—the world’s fourth-largest military spender—and other developing countries mostly buy outdated weaponry, a few generations behind. “Ten and more bidders will participate if you want potatoes or onions, not when you are shopping for truly high-tech weapon systems. Then maybe three can bid, of which two might say, sorry I can’t sell to you because you’re India. Then you’re left with one,” points out Lakshmikumar.

India is the world’s second-largest importers of defense equipment, yet Indian soldiers lack of night-vision goggles, GPS watches, or good shoes. “I have examples of senior army officers who saw an immediate need for some weapon system, bought it out of their own pocket, and used it before getting refunded by the government,” says Lakshmikumar.

Lakshmikumar did his Ph.D. work at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University in the US. He came back to India in 2003 to head Sarnoff Technologies, a subsidiary of Sarnoff Corp. The company had no commercial interest and it was about to close its India operations by 2007. Lakshmikumar bought the India entity with a partner and started a new company named Serial Innovations, which became Tonbo Imaging in 2012.

Tonbo recently won a bid for the Jordanian Army, Now the company is upgrading imaging systems for the army.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *