India’s First Government Approved Drone Agribot

India first government approved drone AgribotIndia’s first government approved drone, the Agribot, was certified in only 35 days – the latest evidence of the country’s determination to support domestic drone manufacturing and become a global drone hub.

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India’s Union Aviation Minister has awarded the first Type Certificate issued under the 2021 Drone Rules to Gurugram-based IoTechWorld, for their precision agriculture tool Agribot.

It’s a win for IoTechWorld, but also a win for the Indian drone industry.  According to a Ministry of Civil Aviation press release, the Ministry release new guidelines for drone certification last January, designed to make it easier for manufacturers to obtain type certification.  This week, India’s first government approved drone received Type Certification (TC) just 34 days after the company’s online application was submitted onto India’s DigitalSky platform.

India’s 2021 Drone Rules allow for a 75 day turnaround, requiring the Quality Council and Certification Bodies to process applications in 60 days and the DGCA to issue certificates in 15 days.

India first government approved drone

The government hopes that an efficient type certification process will encourage a robust drone manufacturing ecosystem.  “The drone certification scheme is likely to create an eco-system for world class drones to be manufactured in India and sold all across the world.  There are 14 drone prototypes that are currently undergoing the certification tests.  The number of Type Certified prototypes may exceed 100 over the next three years,” says the Ministry press release.

“Speaking on this occasion, Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia congratulated IoTechWorld Avigation Pvt Ltd for the first Type Certificate (TC) under Drone Rules, 2021. He said that Ministry of Civil Aviation is working in the direction of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance.””

In addition to the type certification process, India’s central government has enacted a framework of regulations, support and incentives to help the burgeoning domestic drone industry.  Almost 90% of India’s airspace is a drone “green zone,” open for flight up to 400 feet.  Drone production is supported with incentives: purchase of agricultural drones is also subsidized by the government.  A “Drone Shakti” program included in the 2022 Union Budget supports drone startups and Drone-as-a-Services businesses.   The rules requiring a drone pilot license have been abolished, to make it easier for new pilots to get started.

India’s determination to become a global drone hub is most firmly supported by an outright ban on the import of foreign drones for domestic use, combined with a more free import structure for drone components.

“Drones offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy.  These include- agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement…Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas.

Given its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering; supportive policies, monetary incentives and a huge domestic demand base, India has the potential of becoming a global drone hub by 2030,” says the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Read more about India’s drone industry:

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