The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has released the draft of the National Strategy on Robotics, presenting a roadmap to enhance the robotics ecosystem in India. The strategy aims to improve funding availability, promote research and development, and support innovation through ‘moonshot projects’. However, concerns have been raised regarding the provision for AI-based surveillance robots.
The mission of the National Strategy on Robotics is to establish India as a global robotics hub by focusing on research, design, development, and manufacturing, while encouraging widespread adoption. The strategy aims to nurture a sustainable innovation ecosystem, enhance industrial competitiveness, create intellectual property rights, and develop a skilled workforce. The objective is to make India a leader in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and security, in addition to collaborating globally to set high-quality standards.
India has seen significant growth in the operational stock of industrial robots, which has more than doubled since 2016 to reach 33,220 units in 2021. According to the draft, India ranks 10th globally in terms of annual industrial installations, as stated in the World Robotics Report 2022. However, challenges persist, including a lack of skilled human resources and heavy dependence on imports. To address these challenges, the draft emphasizes the need to localize the supply chain for robotics components and calls for the development of a regulatory framework.
The draft identifies the absence of separate legislation for robotics and allied technologies like AI as a challenge. The limited governance mechanisms for robotics pose privacy and security risks, hampering the adoption of robotic technology. The draft recommends the establishment of a robust regulatory landscape that addresses intellectual property protection and the protection of robotic systems from cyber threats.
The priority sectors for robotics in India, according to the ministry, are manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and national security. The draft underscores the potential for robotics to create a significant socio-economic impact in these sectors. In the context of national security, the draft suggests that robotics can be employed for real-time intelligence collection, analysis, and appraisal, especially in monitoring borders and detecting mines. The draft also highlights the use of robotics for surveillance, including the development of a rail-mounted robot named Silent Sentry by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization.
To further the robotics ecosystem, the draft proposes the establishment of the Robotics Innovation Unit, an independent agency under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The unit will lead the implementation of the strategy and comprise technical experts and innovation specialists. Other recommendations include the creation of demonstration centres, innovation testbeds, regulatory sandboxes, standards and certification mechanisms, and centers of excellence in robotics. Furthermore, moonshot projects will be undertaken to drive transformative innovation in robotics.
In conclusion, the National Strategy on Robotics draft aims to position India as a global leader in the field. It recognizes the challenges faced by the country, emphasizes the need for a regulatory framework, and highlights the potential applications of robotics in various sectors. By fostering innovation, promoting collaboration, and addressing the skill gap, India hopes to unlock the full potential of robotics and achieve socio-economic growth.
– The Economic Times: “Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology floats Robotics Strategy.”