Malaysia’s drone industry is flying high after ranking 21st in the Drone Readiness Index (DRI), up from 30th spot last year. It is also the top-ranked Southeast Asian country in the Index.
The country’s core readiness for drones improved by 29 percentage points in the DRI, as it hit 60% – up from 31% the previous year – a clear indicator of the country’s commitment to fast track its potential in drone technology.
This puts the drone industry in Malaysia on a clear growth trajectory with the potential to contribute RM50.71 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create 100,000 job opportunities by 2030.
“Our achievement in the DRI is an early outcome of the Malaysia Drone Technology Action Plan 2022 – 2030 (MDTAP30) and other initiatives which involve strong collaboration by multiple agencies and stakeholders,” said Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar.
She acknowledged the support of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA), National Disaster Relief Management Agency (NADMA), Department of Survey and Mapping (JUPEM) and Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA), amongst others.
Dzuleira said the MDTAP30 key missions focuses on the development of a national Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system, a digital drone registration portal, special drone use-case adoption in key sectors and talent development such as the accreditation of Remote Pilot Training Organizations (RPTO).
The yearly DRI updates which are part of Drone Industry Insights (DII)’s annual Drone Regulation Report, rates participating countries on six parameters: applicability, operational scope, human resources, administrative infrastructure, certification, and airspace integration.
Malaysia achieved a 100% rating in applicability, human resources and certification, with areas to improve in operational scope (50% readiness), airspace integration (40% readiness) and administrative infrastructure (25% readiness).
MRANTI, which is the coordinating agency and secretariat for MDTAP30, had in 2021 also launched Area57, a centre of excellence to boost the drone industry in Malaysia. When completed, the 6-acre Area57 will have facilities for design and simulation, prototype development and manufacturing, services and maintenance workshops, training, as well as testing and certification equipment.
In accelerating the growth of Malaysia’s drone industry, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has also created the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS).
The NTIS focuses on the development and testing of technologies in live environments. Through the NTIS, companies can receive support for financing for commercialization, regulatory assistance and market development.
In these regards, 25 drone technology applications have been approved for testing in various Sandbox initiatives.
Of these, NTIS has provided about RM10 million in funding to 19 Malaysian drone companies from 2020 to 2022. These drone companies offer solutions for a variety of sectors, with the majority being in agriculture, and medical delivery, infrastructure, security surveillance, and others. In these Sandboxes, drones are being tested for a range of applications, including spraying, mapping, plant analysis, and warehousing, among others.