Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Drone Technology Conference – A Timely Initiative By MeitY

Gp Capt. Anupam Banerjee (r.)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is set to host a drone technology conference soon. This was announced recently by Minister of State Rajeev Chandrashekhar. The conference is proposed to be hosted as an annual event. Media reports indicate that while announcing the initiative, the minister also said, “The idea is that while there is an ecosystem of users and application that will be built around drone technology, also the core technology — the actual electronics of it, the software, and the integration of that to capabilities in AI, Image Recognition, Pattern Matching etc. — will be integral to create a roadmap for Done Technology that is Indian Drone Technology”. 

The Indian government has carried out a series of reform measures in this sector recently by notifying the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 on 25 August and also by publishing the Drone Airspace Map on 24 September. Among many things, the new rules have done away with the need for security clearance before the registration or licensing of a drone. The government has also eased policy to facilitate importing parts for the manufacturing of drones in India. To promote the manufacturing of drones and drone components in India, it notified the Production Linked Incentive scheme on 30 September 2021. The single-window digital sky platform is being developed according to the new Drone Rules, 2021 and is expected to be fully ready by 26 January 2022.

The global drone market size is estimated to reach US$ 76 Billion by 2025. Drone technology and services are expected to provide substantive business opportunities soon. Along with the promotion of manufacturing, there is a need to give impetus to the overall drone technology ecosystem. As of now, the defence and energy industries have shown the highest adoption of drone technology. Whereas, services industries including cargo, courier services, intra-logistics and warehousing also have substantial potential to adopt the technology. Mapping and surveying, the media and entertainment sector also use drones extensively. At present, China and Japan lead the commercial drone market regionally, while India has tremendous potential to compete soon.

To make India a global leader in the drone related services sector, there is an urgent need for concentrated outreach programmes to encourage increased usage of drone-related services in various sectors. This can be made possible when drones are coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies for their successful deployment in multiple sectors. Therefore, there exists a strong need to bring together the drone companies and the tech companies, including startups, to harness the immense potential of drones. 

MeitY aims to play a much-needed pivotal role in this aspect by bringing different stakeholders from the central government, state governments, drone manufacturing industry, indigenous and global, drone service industry, The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), Indian Software Products Industry Round Table (iSPIRT), academia and startups on one single platform. 

The need to evolve an India centric stack that can form the base technology layer to fast track innovation in the sector with a core objective to make India a global leader in drones is immediate. Hopefully, the proposed conference will play a critical role in achieving the required synergy and thus can prove to be a timely initiative to initially harness and then unleash the gross national potential in this sector.


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