With the drone industry and drone services opening up a range of possibilities, it’s likely that many people in business and government are moving fast to capitalize on this innovation.
The West may be ahead of other countries when it comes to drone development. However, Asian nations are also moving fast. As the industry shifts in accordance with this tug of war, India seems to be making its way into the spotlight.
There are several factors involved, including some steps in the right direction that the nation has taken. These could point towards a position of dominance for India in the global drone market.
First off, a number of issues are stunting the current state of drone development in India.
Its development of local-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) and Smaller Drones is lacking in critical ways. A large portion of UAV supply still relies on the importing of foreign models that meet requirements set by bodies like the Indian Armed forces.
Local projects (including Pilot-less Target Drone development like Abhyas, Lakshay and Netra which focus on light-weight surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities) have had some success over the years. However, we have yet to see a significant drone program with consistent success.
India should concentrate more on the production of different types of drones for its Armed Forces in order for it to rise as a regional power.
More private sector firms should develop drones in different models and sizes. Successful technical cooperation with countries that have mastered drone technology and that are able to help India advance its own domestic market should be maintained.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to drone development, India cannot be dependent on other countries for very long. Next Generation Aerial Warfare and other UAV-related aspects are clearly moving more towards the use of net-centric Autonomous and unmanned aerial platforms. Local innovation should pick up the pace.
India is no stranger to taking action. A vast array of initiatives have been deployed. A good example of this lies in the ongoing development of an Autonomous Unmanned Combat Vehicle called Aura.
DRDO describes this project as a long-range self-defending high-speed reconnaissance UAV with Weapons capabilities.
Aura will be equipped with state-of-the-art features including stealth capabilities that make it undetectable by radar for security missions into hostile zones.
Aside from military applications, the aviation sector is also a prime focus with regards to the deployment of advanced drones.
The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation, Shri Suresh Prabhu has said that the aviation sector has the potential to add to the growth of the Indian economy. This can, in turn, push many other sectors forward and positively impact GDP.
He added that this growth can be achieved through the adjustment of policy dynamics, immediate actionable plans and a long-term strategy that takes into account ‘Macro’ and ‘Micro’ level movements.
India is repositioning itself for the future
Overall, the nation is being set up to benefit from this drone revolution.
The government of Andhra Pradesh, a southern Indian state, announced at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 that the policy frameworks developed in the newly released ‘Advanced Drone Operators Toolkit’ are to be tested in order to allow for state-wide drone delivery.
This user-manual has been designed for governments looking to scale drone delivery and increase efficiency for processes and operations in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s an open-source collection of resources with lessons from the combined work of 10 civil aviation authorities from five different continents, 23 private companies and 8 international government organizations.
The policy toolkit is developed with the aim of accelerating policy innovation around drones, and with this powerful resource, India may just be ready to take on the global drone market. Combine that with the nation’s resourcefulness and promising UAV initiatives, and we may just see India at the forefront of drone development very soon.
This marks a new direction and a sense of greater urgency in India’s move towards adopting advanced drone technology. We can expect UAVs for the delivery of medicine to remote areas, optimized drone manufacturing from local companies, the integration of automation, analytics and AI as primary features, and more.
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