Integration of drones will drive inclusive growth – Amitabh Kant

New Delhi: The integration of drones within Industry 4.0 will drive inclusive growth, positioning India as an aspiring leader in the Industry 4.0 revolution and a global hub of drone technology in Amritkaal. With the aim of becoming a $35 trillion economy by 2047, India recognizes immense opportunities in the drone sector. The government has taken steps to support this growth through initiatives like the PLI scheme, fostering a thriving startup ecosystem in the drone economy.

The sector poses strong growth potential, with the annual sales turnover projected to rise from 60 crores in 2021 to around 500 crores in 2025, reaching approximately 1,500 crores in the next 2-3 years. However, the global market is expected to reach $55 billion by 2025 and $100 billion by 2030. To capitalize on this growth, India aims to capture at least 10% of the market share, aspiring to become a $10 billion economy in the drone sector, said, Mr. Amitabh Kant, G 20 Sherpa of India, while speaking at PHDCCI’s BHARAT DRONE MANTHAN -2024 under the theme “Making India a Global Drone Hub in Amrit Kaal” a two-day Expo on Innovations & Technological Advancement in the Drones Ecosystem; UTM; UAM, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) systems & Allied Industries held from 27th to 28th March 2024 at PHD House, New Delhi.

Kant shared, ‘Drone manufacturers should adopt a very holistic approach encompassing rigorous testing, continuous monitoring, and robust validation processes while developing production solutions. Integration of sensors and 5G in drones will revolutionize their capabilities. Drones equipped with advanced sensors and artificial intelligence will facilitate the collection and analysis of data. In real-time, they will enhance decision-making processes across industries, and the integration of drones within Industry 4.0 will drive inclusive growth that will enable us to thrive, while the sector has seen a 300 percent growth and investment over the past three years, it is still at a very low base. Therefore, we need to make a quantum jump like we’ve done in mobile manufacturing, and the next big spot of growth must happen through drone manufacturing. The advent of Industry 4.0 is characterized by automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Advanced sensors will provide real-time data for precise mapping and environmental monitoring, while 5G connectivity enables seamless communication and enhances effectiveness and application, ranging from agriculture to surveillance and disaster response.’

Kant added, ‘furthermore, there is a huge role of artificial intelligence, robotics, and cloud going forward. The advancement of AI, robotics, and cloud will see drones becoming intelligent flying robots capable of autonomous and precise flight patterns, real-time data analysis, and superior decision-making in any environment. This represents frontier technology, and India must champion it. Cloud-based platforms can provide a centralized hub for scaling drone operations, making it easier for teams to collaborate, track flights, and manage regulatory compliance. These technologies will enable new use cases such as rapid and accurate delivery services, frequent and automated inspection of critical infrastructure, and agricultural mapping.’

My view is that there is a need to create an environment that encourages research and development, rewards innovation, and fosters Indian intellectual property ownership, along with financing mechanisms to support all drone manufacturers, particularly startups and MSME companies working in the sector. I would like to congratulate the PHDCCI for taking the initiative, concluded Mr. Kant.

Piyush Srivastava, Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India stated that we are witnessing a revolution disguised as drones. By 2030, the global drone market is projected to reach 100 billion dollars, and we should aspire to capture at least a 10 percent share of that market. There are no entry barriers, or they are relatively low. Additionally, drones have multiple applications beyond surveillance and entertainment. India has found fertile ground for the drone industry to expand, with an impressive number of startups and entrepreneurs fostering a culture of innovation and competition. The industry has capitalized on many government initiatives and worked in conjunction with the government, which is essential for sector growth.

He further discussed the SVAMITVA scheme and the Drone Didi Initiative, the latter involves the distribution of 15,000 drones to women-led self-help groups that will not only transform the lives of these women but also the economy of these areas.

He added, as for the government’s role, it serves as the regulator and facilitator of the drone industry, the government has taken steps to ease of doing business, simplifying drone rules and democratizing their use. Applications and permissions required have been reduced from 25 to 5, and fees from various aspects have been consolidated to just three. The government has also announced financial incentives, including the PLI scheme, which has been successful in promoting the sector’s growth.

Export liberalization has been achieved, facilitating the export of drones for civilian use, thereby benefiting the domestic industry. However, a challenge faced by the drone industry is the lack of domestic manufacturing capacity. To address this, the government has allowed the import of unit components, while the import of complete drones remains banned. Moving forward, the focus should not only be on the application and use of drone technology but also on manufacturing drones. The PLI scheme is just one aspect, and attention should also be given to design aspects to foster innovation. Additionally, UTM integration is crucial, requiring dynamic management integrated with ATC. Lastly, building a robust database of the drone industry’s dimensions is essential for planning and implementing future interventions or incentives. This information base will aid in informed decision-making and effective implementation, he concluded.

Lieutenant General Vinod G. Khandare, PVSM, AVSM, SM (Retd.), Principal Adviser -Ministry of Defence emphasized the importance of developing safety standards and testing protocols, he said there can be no compromise on that. He urged the PHDCCI to encourage testing centers to actively participate in this endeavor.

General Khandare further emphasized that the focus should not solely be on selling products but on building national capabilities. He highlighted the significance of the drone industry in various sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and aviation, especially in border areas and stressed the need to prioritize border development to ensure national security and prosperity, as outlined by the Prime Minister.

He also highlighted the role of drones, along with digital and physical road connectivity, in addressing security challenges along the border and emphasized the importance of swift growth in logistic drones to enhance border security and support civilian populations. Lastly, while recognizing the unique requirements of the country, he discussed the collective effort required from PHDCCI, think tanks in providing studies and support to the government.

Sanjeev Agrawal, President, PHDCCI, expressed enthusiasm as deliberations were made on the future of drone technology, its applications, and its potential to transform various industries including agriculture, healthcare, and more during PHDCCI’s Bharat Drone Manthan-2024. He highlighted the privilege of having  Kant and his insights into technology integration at the event and anticipated fruitful deliberations that would pave the way for embracing innovation for societal betterment. On behalf of PHDCCI, Mr. Agrawal thanked distinguished guests for their deliberations on navigating India’s future in drone technology, fostering innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity. And called it the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and envision a transformative and boundless future uplifted by technology and innovation.

Dr. Ranjeet Mehta, Executive Director, PHDCCI, said the vision for India is to secure a 10 billion dollar share in the drone market, with a target of reaching 2 billion dollar by 2025. He emphasized the importance of preparing and ensuring consistent achievement of this target annually from 2025 to 2030.

He further expressed confidence in meeting these goals given the supportive policies of the Indian government and the industry’s demand and viewed this as a significant opportunity for all individuals, including entrepreneurs, startups, and young innovators, to contribute to the industry’s growth. On behalf of PHDCCI, Dr. Mehta expressed gratitude to all participants and wished for a fruitful session ahead.

The Event supported by PHDCCI annual sponsors, DLF Ltd; Jindal Steel & Power; KLJ Group; Multani Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Marble City; MMG Group; Radico Khaitan Ltd; Uflex Ltd; Vestige; Eazy ERP Technologies; JK Tyre & Industries Ltd; Sagar Group of Industries; Superior Industries Limited; Samsung India Electronics; Oswal Greentech; Apeejay Stya Group; Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products Pvt Ltd; DCM Shriram; R E Rogers; Trident Group; Ajit Industries Pvt Ltd; Bhagwati Plastic and Pipes Industries; Central Coalfields Ltd; DD Pharmaceutical Ltd.; Hindware Sanitary; Jindal Steel; Modern Automobiles; P S BEDI & Co.


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