Malaysia can further strengthen its position as a leading drone provider
THE Area 57 initiative will propel Malaysia in the drone race.
Area 57, a centre of excellence for research and development and talent empowerment developed at Technology Park Malaysia (TPM), was officiated recently by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Datuk Sri Dr Adham Baba.
The launch of Area 57 will actively foster the development of Malaysia’s innovative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) sector.
The location is equipped with a 100-metre drone track, 300 square metres drone net area, drone testing mockup site, hangar, laboratory, manufacturing equipment, training facilities and prototype testing area, operations office and drone service and maintenance workshop for drone operators.
Dr Adham highlighted the recovery of Malaysia’s economy could be boosted with the invention, commercialisation and manufacture of technologies and innovations, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
“This Area 57 centre of excellence can help Malaysia achieve its goal of becoming a major leader in the drone technology industry. It is projected the global drone market will reach US$41.3 billion by 2026,” said Dr Adham.
“The efforts to develop drone technology needs to be intensified. We must expand and enhance services in various sectors.”
These sectors are e-commerce, logistics of delivery of essential or medical supplies to rural, remote or affected areas from natural disasters; infrastructure management, and security monitoring to maintain smart buildings, smart cities, maritime and urban agriculture.
Area 57 is also one of the developments supervised by the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS), which includes three other test locations in FELDA Mempaga Pahang, Drone and Robotics Zone in Iskandar, and Urban Delivery Drones in Cyberjaya.
On top of that, TPM will collaborate with other agencies such as the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), SIRIM, and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MaGIC).
Making Malaysia a drone hub
The Department of Environment and the Office of the Chief Security Officer of the Malaysian government are included to facilitate the development of the drone industry in terms of certification, frequency approval, camera approval, and safety approval for drone operation in Area 57.
MOSTI will also engage with scholars from various Higher Education Institutes and local drone firms.
A world-acclaimed Malaysian drone business, Aerodyne Group, will advise Area 57.
Aerodyne will supply drone-based enterprise solutions and pioneer the application of Artificial Intelligence. They intend to develop smart cities with drone technology advancements in surveillance and security, infrastructure development and smart agriculture.
In 2020, Aerodyne was named the world’s second-biggest drone-based solutions provider by Drone Industry Insights (DII).
Since last year, TPM has also made an effort to penetrate the drone and robotics technology sector through the NTIS project.
These pilot projects aligned with the 10-10 Science, Technology, Innovation, and Economics Framework (MySTIE 10-10), a National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) programme to transform Malaysia into a high-tech and high-income nation through innovation-based solutions.
Dr Adham also urged strengthening digital infrastructure and disruptive technologies, which are critical to the sustainability of the country’s start-up economy, financial sector, and talent development.
He believed the drone industry would succeed with inter-agency and inter-ministry cooperation.
According to the Malaysia Board of Technologists (MBOT), developing the drone sector through Area 57 is a strategic move toward making Malaysia a drone hub because it will have a multiplier effect on other businesses.
It said Area 57 had the potential to increase demand for high-skilled labour.
“Various potential can be explored and expanded with the current number of 44,051 registrants in 23 technology and technical disciplines,” MBOT said in a statement.
“The rapid development of drones has reached a wide range of industries. It is supported by a combination of several technological aspects such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence, electronic technology, mechanical engineering technology, batteries, computer software, infrared cameras and GPS modules.”
MBOT urged business participants, higher education institutions and government agencies to reskill and upskill so that existing talent remained relevant and competitive in the industry.
According to a 2020 analysis by Drone Industry Insights, the size of the drone market will grow annually by 2025, with Asia having the most significant drone market in the world.
According to the survey, after the United States and Japan, Malaysia ranked third among drone service providers globally in 2019.
“This demonstrates that Malaysia has not only excellent drone service providers but also has world-class drone technology,” added MBOT. — @Green