“Based on inputs from stakeholders, we understand that one of the major reasons for investments not picking up India is lack of public sector participation – lack of use-cases and thereby not spurring sufficient demand,” Nasscom said in its feedback regarding the draft National Strategy on Robotics released by the ministry of electronics and IT on October 13.
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It pointed out that while investment in robotics is growing globally, robotics in India suffers from heavy venture capital under-representation. Around 70% of the global investment is towards Europe, the US and Israel, it said.
Nasscom submitted its feedback to the government on October 31.
It said replacing manual scavenging in sectors like the railways, spot spraying robots in agriculture to reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals, and assistive technology for senior citizens in healthcare would be good use cases for robotics adoption.
The public sector should locally manufacture parts like motors and electronics for robots, as this would have ‘cascading benefits’ for the private ecosystem, the feedback said. “We need the participation of public sector entities to create a viable and scalable supply chain for robotics in India.”
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The government should also make focused investment in research and development, including in high-end laboratories, after discussions with industry to identify industrial applications. It should support the development of open-source robotics and consortiums enabling an integrated robotics environment and prioritise the purchase of open and interoperable systems, Nasscom said.“To get the most out of robotic systems, systems will need to be able to communicate with each other, to build fully networked robotic solutions,” Nasscom said.
It added that most large robotics providers have closed proprietary systems that make it difficult to build integrated robotics solutions to utilise components and robots from several providers. Small sellers also find it harder to enter the market.
The government’s draft strategy proposed a National Robotics Mission to make India a global robotics hub, with a focus on research and development, demonstration and testing, commercialization and supply chain development and adoption and awareness to create domestic capabilities in robotics technology.
The strategy envisioned robotics as a key component of IndiaAI, the government’s initiative to advance the AI ecosystem to foster an AI-integrated society. It suggested setting up of a Robotics Innovation Unit, a production or design-linked incentive scheme, a framework for the ethical use of robotics, and creation of a public procurement policy for robotics.
“We appreciate that the Draft Strategy has rightfully identified and acknowledged several of the challenges that the Indian robotics is facing, like, high import dependence, costly hardware components, insufficient investments in research and development,” said Ashish Aggarwal, vice president and head of public policy, Nasscom.
He requested Meity to hold targeted public meetings with relevant stakeholders to discuss issues and feedback before finalising the national strategy.