The National Strategy on Robotics: India’s Ambitious Plan for Innovation and Development

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India has recently released a draft of the National Strategy on Robotics. The strategy aims to improve funding availability in the robotics ecosystem, enhance research and development (R&D), and support innovative “moonshot projects.” However, the draft also highlights the limited governance mechanisms in place for robotics in India and calls for the establishment of an independent agency, the Robotics Innovation Unit, to implement the strategy.

The mission of the National Strategy on Robotics is to establish India as a global hub for robotics. It focuses primarily on research, design, development, and manufacturing, as well as promoting the widespread adoption of robotics. The strategy aims to foster a sustainable innovation ecosystem, ensure competitiveness, encourage the creation of intellectual property rights, and develop a skilled workforce in the country. It also sets ambitious objectives, including making India a global leader in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and security within the next decade.

According to the draft, the operational stock of industrial robots in India has more than doubled since 2016, reaching 33,220 units in 2021. However, challenges such as a lack of skilled human resources and heavy reliance on imports still hinder the growth of the robotics industry in the country. The draft recommends addressing these challenges by localizing the supply chain and strengthening the regulatory framework.

The draft paper emphasizes the need for a separate robotics legislation and regulation for allied technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to address privacy, security risks, and intellectual property protection. The absence of such legislation limits the adoption of robotic technology in India. The focus areas for robotics in India, according to the draft, include manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and national security.

In the context of national security, the draft proposes the use of robotics for tasks such as border monitoring and mine detection. The paper mentions the development of Silent Sentry, a fully 3D-printed rail-mounted robot by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. This robot can be controlled remotely and is equipped with AI-based object detection capabilities, autonomous patrolling, and intrusion detection features.

To achieve the goals outlined in the National Strategy on Robotics, the draft recommends the establishment of the Robotics Innovation Unit, an independent agency under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Other recommendations include the creation of demonstration centers, innovation testbeds, regulatory sandboxes, and centers of excellence in robotics. The draft is currently open for public comments until October 31.

Overall, India’s National Strategy on Robotics aims to position the country as a global leader in robotics and drive innovation across various sectors. By addressing challenges, improving governance mechanisms, and promoting collaboration and standards, India intends to create a thriving and competitive robotics ecosystem.

– The Economic Times
– The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology