UAV Drone IndustryGiving wings to a drone-enabled future

November 2, 2021by helo-10

The Government of India envisions making India a global drone hub by 2030. To realise this dream, the Drone Rules 2021 were released in August along with the PLI scheme for the drone sector on September 15. These regulations have opened a whole new world of possibilities for drone business in India which has the potential to transform almost all sectors of the economy. This will enable as fundamental a shift in people’s lives as aircraft brought in the mid-twentieth century or the internet brought in the last couple of decades. 

The regulations themselves have significantly increased the ease of doing business in the drone sector which is evident from the fact that the number of approvals and permissions have been reduced from 25 to 6. New rules not only provide more autonomy to the industry but also create space for innovation for industry players in terms of R&D opportunities, new use cases and business opportunities hitherto unknown. The rules have removed existing restrictions on foreign ownership in Indian companies which would lead to the entry of proven drone technologies from across the world and help the sector scale new heights.

The government support in the form of a PLI scheme of Rs 120 crores will make the domestic manufacturing of drone and drone components more attractive and competitive while propelling the sector towards the country’s Make in India vision. The Government expects India to attract investments worth ₹5,000 Crore, direct drone sales of ₹1,500 Crore and the creation of additional  10,000 jobs over next 3 years. In order to make domestic manufacturing competitive versus countries like China, it is essential the drone manufacturing achieves economies of scale. For this to happen, standardization of the component level specifications as per the classification of UAV segments to make them compatible across various platforms is necessary.

While drone manufacturers will benefit from increased drone applications across sectors, drone services (operations, logistics, data processing and analytics, traffic management etc.) is likely to create a much bigger impact on the Indian economy by providing a means of livelihood to many. The Government expects the services sector to grow to ₹ 30,000 cr. in the next 3 years and generate over 5 lac jobs. There is a large opportunity for individuals to get trained and developed as drone specialists or entrepreneurs. There is significant know-how needed in the industry, such as technology needed for sensors and imaging systems and payload mechanisms apart from pure drone operations. Technology professionals would also be able to leverage artificial intelligence (AI)-powered drones to capture and process data in search and rescue operations, apart from leveraging it in mining and mega-scale infrastructure projects. Drone data analytics companies can morph into intelligent data resources. However, for this to happen, there is an immediate need to develop and train professionals who can handle the large projected numbers of UAVs in the Indian market. The infrastructure and flight training institutes need to be ramped up across the country along with standardisation and up-gradation of the curriculum. The training institutes need to train individuals with specialized courses, for example, drone operations and management, field experience and online courses complete with unmanned systems technology. New stakeholders should be encouraged to invest and be part of this sunrise industry.

The government’s announcement of the development of Drone corridors for cargo deliveries paves way for wider usage of deep-tech beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) technology for the logistics sector. Increased coverage of drones up to 500 kg can open paths for commercial operations of drone taxies in future as well. However, Government should provide more details and release regulations around BVLOS.

(The writer is a Co-founder and Business Chairperson, RattanIndia Enterprises)

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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