Malaysia Almost Doubles Drone Readiness In One Year

  • Rises to 21st in global Drone Readiness Index, up from 30th last year
  • Achieved a 100% rating in applicability, human resources, and certification

The National Technology and Innovation Sandbox focuses on the development and testing of technologies in live environments. Through the NTIS, companies can receive support for financing for commercialisation, regulatory assistance, and market development.

[Ed: First subhead edited for clarity.]

Malaysia’s drone industry is flying high after ranking 21st in the Drone Readiness Index (DRI), up from the 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.

Malaysia Almost Doubles Drone Readiness In One Year“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 Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO, Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI).

She acknowledged the support of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA), the National Disaster Relief Management Agency (NADMA), the Department of Survey and Mapping (JUPEM), and the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA), amongst others.

Dzuleira said the MDTAP30 key missions focus 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 Organisations (RPTO).

The MDTAP30 was announced by former prime minister Ismail Sabri, last year. He said the drone industry in Malaysia has the potential to generate growth of US$11.452 billion (RM50.71) billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is capable of creating 100,000 job opportunities by 2030.

The yearly DRI updates which are part of Drone Industry Insights (DII)'s annual Drone Regulation Report, rate participating countries on six parameters: applicability, operational scope, human resources, administrative infrastructure, certification, and airspace integration.

The report indicated that countries with the strongest increase in drone readiness are the UK, Brazil, Switzerland, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and China.

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).


Development of Area57 as COE to boost drone industry 

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).


Financing for commercialisation, regulatory assistance and market development support from NTIS

The NTIS focuses on the development and testing of technologies in live environments. Through the NTIS, companies can receive support for financing for commercialisation, 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 US$2.2 million (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, 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. 

The NTIS receives strong support from 50 Innovation Accelerator Network (IAN) partners, including technology giants, conglomerates, and multinationals, to boost the development of Malaysia's drone industry.

In the Drone Services Providers Ranking 2022, also by DII, Malaysia’s Aerodyne Group and Meraque are ranked in the world’s top 20. Aerodyne, ranked number one, has more than 1,000 employees, and has collected over US$ 60 million in funding rounds.


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