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ATMAN AI by DRDO: All you need to know about COVID-19 detection software using chest X-rays 

Arfa Javaid

In order to accelerate the diagnosis and effectively treat COVID-19 patients, DRDO's Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based COVID-19 detection application software ATMAN using the chest X-rays. 

CAIR, Director, Dr. U.K. Singh was quoted as saying that the development of the diagnostic tool was part of DRDO’s effort to help clinicians and partners on the frontline to help rapidly diagnose and effectively treat COVID-19 patients. He explained that with the limited testing facilities for coronavirus, there is a rush to develop AI tools for quick analysis using X-rays. The tool will help in automatically detecting radiological findings indicative of Covid-19 in seconds, enabling physicians and radiologists to more effectively triage the cases, especially in an emergency environment. 

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He further added that the tool can be of great use especially in smaller towns in India owing to the lack of easy access to CT scans. It will also reduce the existing burden on radiologists and make CT machines which are being used for COVID be used for other diseases and illness owing to overload for CT scans. 

The AI-Based Intelligent COVID-19 Detector Technology For Medical Assistance (ATMAN) can classify the images into Normal, Covid-19 and Pneumonia classes using a limited number (few hundreds) of sample images with an accuracy rate of 96.73%.  

With this development, it is expected that the existing burden on radiologists will reduce significantly. Additionally, it will also make CT machines available for CT scans of other diseases and illness apart from COVID-19.  

The back end of the software has been built with a Deep Convolution Neural Network which is tuned to accurately detect COVID-19 irrespective of the limited availability of its X-ray images for the system to learn. The software automatically pre-processes the images before passing them to the Neural net to take care of the variant illuminations levels of the X-ray images. The software is easy to navigate and can be easily accessed over the Internet through a variety of devices such as mobiles, tablets, laptops, and computers.

It is well established that the SARS-CoV-2 affects the lungs even before the patient starts showing significant symptoms. Therefore, in comparison to RT-PCR tests, an X-ray based diagnostic tool can detect the infection in the early stages with processing time in seconds. 

The Software developed by DRDO's CAIR has been tested and validated by the doctors from HCG Centre for Academics and Research, Bengaluru and Ankh Life Care, Bengaluru, and have also provided data and relevant medical domain knowledge.

Image Credit: DRDO

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