Government plans to boost robotics, manufacturing, export of drones
The Union electronics and information technology ministry plans to boost robotics and manufacturing and export of drones under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, officials aware of the matter said.
The ministry introduced the scheme last year to provide incentives of four to six percent to electronics firms for manufacturing mobile phones and other electronic equipment to boost exports.
“The mobile phones PLI approximately aims to create [production worth] $8 billion... per players with overall $150 million incentives...Similarly, for drones and robotics, [it]...will be at least [production worth] $2 billion...per player,” said an official, who did not want to be named. There is an emerging market for drones and robotics and the scheme will help India capture a space in it on the global scale, the official added.
A second official familiar with the matter said there will be greater demand for robotics and drones with companies such as Amazon investing heavily in the latter. “All delivery services will have to reorient themselves to accommodate the new technology.”
The drones are expected to be increasingly used for aerial surveys, fighting large scale insect attacks such as those by locusts last year apart from military purposes. Robotics has a huge potential in boosting healthcare services.
Umakanth Soni of Robotics Technologies Park said India’s output is pretty low in the robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector. “It is great that...[the ministry] is looking at doing this [boosting robotics and manufacturing and export of drones],” Soni said.
Soni said the technology park seeks to set up an ecosystem for AI and robotics in India. “Our problem primarily lies with the inability to scale these solutions [up] and manufacture them. That is a sector where we need massive support.” He said India has eight percent of the global talent in the AI sector.
Soni said India needs a cluster approach that countries such as China and Israel have adopted. “AI is going to create $15.7 trillion of new economic value by 2035, according to PWC research. The AI revolution has the potential to create 133 million jobs, with a net gain of 58 million jobs.”
Chirag Sharma of HubbleFly, a drone manufacturer, said there is great scope for domestic production. “...incentives would be needed. That way at least we can start research and development,” Sharma said.
Experts pointed out that India’s regulatory drone policy is still in the draft stage and it will need to finalised to boost production and export of drones. The civil aviation ministry is working on the policy that will decide who can fly a drone, to where, and with what kind of payload.
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