Opinion: Accelerated digitisation, widening digital divide

In the age of disruptive technologies, each of these can change our world forever, from autonomous vehicles to 5G to robotics to drones. However, the chain can keep going on, and the apex technology which provides the final value add is Artificial Intelligence

Any country becoming a world leader in one or more is bound to change its technology and economic landscape. Usage can elevate you by one level, but massive large-scale drones would produce the natural crowning glory. Will we be able to create that sort of a market as the application of drones is as good as universal and makes a cut to the level of general-purpose technology.

Yesterday, drones were given wings in this country. That the existing drone regime, besides being cumbersome, was infructuous. This has been the backdrop of the liberalized Drone Rules 2021, announced last week. The approvals, payload, fees, no flying zones etc., were given a go by and on the face of it, drone operations are bound to become smooth.

A large number of companies and other organizations would start using drones in a big way. The sectors which are in dire need of drones would get covered. It is also believed that the manufacturing of drones would get a significant boost. Agriculture, forestry and utilities can be simple examples.

Policies and rules are made on presumptions and projections with some sprinkling of conjectured data. India has the potential to become the Global Drone Hub by 2030. Potential to reality has been the biggest challenge. We have been meandering between different visions.

Are we thinking of creating some drone manufacturing hubs or a research centre specializing in drone applications for various areas; the nature of payloads, its delivery, the utility, the more granular we get, the more we are likely to be to achieve. Specializing in any technology commercially is a long haul.

Company-wise DJI or mass-scale production of Shenzen, we have to create our own multi-billion dollar companies and our manufacturing tech hubs.

A FICCI report estimates the drone marketplace at Rs 300,000 crore (roughly $40 billion). Homeland security accounts for around 50 per cent. Have we not heard of the $9 billion homeland security market around 2015? From where these projections come to vanish into the blue, no one knows.

The challenge is of using the liberalized rules to business prosperity of a nation while bringing in a new level of ease of life and a data machine that could fuel every engine of artificial intelligence. Drones are an essential component of our data enabled and driven world.

From preventative maintenance of pipeline or predict the ripening of a crop and spraying pesticides onto the crops in the agricultural fields, Pressing into use for disaster relief distribution including medicines for victims in case of extreme events, or a weapon on war, it has it all. The robust growth of Digital Sky Platform can be a game-changer.

Harnessing a new technology like drones can deliver beautiful results for a nation.

Blog by- Dr. Parvez Hayat Former IPS