For drones and other Industry 4.0 technologies to develop and flourish into future-oriented economic systems, indigenous growth is required to lead the upcoming era of aerospace that would result from economic innovation. Notably, India has the right mixture of elements needed to prompt this.
To extract the advantages of autonomous aviation technologies, the drone should meet vital social needs uniquely and cost-effectively. India has witnessed a record drought situation that ignites the dramatic need for effective use of potable water and more intense and granular monitoring the agricultural impact on groundwater resources.
Local affiliates and startups in India have already presented the benefits of drones. As the Indian government sees drones as a tool to solve societal challenges, the national mapping agency of the country, Survey India and Maharashtra government, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, recently proposed to map 40,000 villages using drones. This initiative has been proposed to fix locations of village boundaries, canals, canal limits, and roads.
Besides this, drones are being experimented in supply chain and last-mile delivery service providers in the health industry. A minister from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “One of the applications for drones that has come forward is an application to transport organs so that is something that we have discussed with a large hospital company that is transporting organs right now and has found it to be very difficult to transport organs, given how crowded Indian streets are.”
The factors which can make India lead with drones are – Gaps in infrastructure, awareness, and agreement to answer climatological challenges, and a willingness to try new technologies to address new social divides.
As the country is developing young talents, it can satisfy the need for a workforce that knows how to implement the new technology and has the skills to execute that vision. With a knowledgeable and highly skilled workforce in the technology sector, the country has been a consistent performer and climbed up to the top five places in the Global Innovation Index (GII) to 52nd of 126 nations last year.
The country is likely to shelter more than 18 percent of the global working-age population by 2050. Also, more than 100 million newcomers are expected to join the workforce in the next 3 years. According to Inc42 DataLabs, India has at least 50 drone start-ups operating with considerable room for growth and innovation.
To date, the Indian drone startups have demonstrated their ability to detect mosquito breeding grounds to avoid illnesses, assist city planners in mapping urban environments with cost-effectiveness and precision and deliver fast food to local communities in a reliable way.
Another element essential for the proper development of the drone industry is a regulatory issue. Reportedly, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is working with the industry to solve the regulatory problem. In May 2019, an invitation has been released by DGCA for collaboration on Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone technologies often seen as the Holy Grail of drone operations.
On one hand, where several countries have experimented with different programmes, India’s approach is its framework for collaboration as a consortium, to bring internal and external experts together and collaboratively enables data sharing. The Indian government is implying its continued wish to embrace innovation in the interest of society. India can possibly become a global home for next-gen drone technologies driven by the societal motivation to address big challenges, supported by a workforce and a government open to new solutions in the public interest.