The business impact of Artifical Intelligence (AI) and robotics is rising by the day, and these frontier techs are fast reshaping industries and providing better and faster services. Industries depend on AI to mine data accumulated for years, helping unravel disruptive technological breakthroughs. IB Times caught up with home-grown robotics and AI luminaries to find out how Budget 2018 can help boost this sector.
Several recent reports said India and Japan will work together to introduce AI and robotics in the defence sector. This would equip India's armed forces with a host of robots that can work as a part of any team much like the soldiers.
Besides services, industry and defence sectors, even road construction companies have started using robots. The roads ministry expects that the introduction of robots will help it to cut down on labour costs and prevent the loss of human lives.
As the demand for AI and robotics is increasing across key sectors, it's necessary that the government has a plan for the AI and Robotics industry in the upcoming budget.
AI and robotics industry experts in India shared with IBTimes India their expectations from the Union Budget 2018, which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present on February 1.
Expectations from GreyOrange: GreyOrange is a leading warehouse automation provider. They have products like warehouse automation robots and intelligent warehouse control system. Samay Kohli, the Group Chief Executive Officer, expects the following from the budget:
- The government could focus on formulating a comprehensive policy to support the growth of AI R&D (Research and Development) and development in India, so that it should be able to reap the benefits of AI business at a later stage as it did in the case of IT industry
- In order to promote further "Make in India" policy, government could create special manufacturing parks for new technology manufacturing companies and surrounding ecosystem. Companies established under these areas could be eligible for criteria based "tax and capital" incentive.
- We look for Tax incentives to encourage expenditure on R&D along with easy access to working capital funding from banks at competitive rates for companies fulfilling Make in India initiative.
- Extension of sun set clause for section 35(2AB) to encourage investment in R&D which will help in reduction in foreign outflow on technical know-how, and also in generating forex through supply of Indian products, resulting in reduction in imported goods and increase in employment.
- With the government's focus on Make in India, and considering GreyOrange manufactures in India and exports Robotics products worldwide, government could lower the import duties on raw materials (Eg. Battery, Chargers, Gearbox etc.)
- Since the development of technologies is a key factor in the growth and promotion of companies like GreyOrange, it is very important that a few of the very critical key components should be developed and manufactured in India. One of such critical components is "chip" development and manufacturing as it is an essential component for most technology products nowadays especially for AI products. The government should use all its possible resources to set up chip manufacturing facilities in India as it will create an essential manufacturing eco-system and will reduce substantial dependencies on other countries, specifically China, for import of such a critical component.
- In order to promote home-grown AI and technologies companies, the government could try to give some leverage on the eligibility criteria for including/selecting such companies in government projects.
Expectations from Niki.ai: Niki.ai is an AI start-up headquartered in Bangalore. Sachin Jaiswal, the CEO, expects the following from the government:
- In India specifically, we believe that the government should put efforts in 2018 towards building AI-related training and awareness programmes for end-consumers and potential employees alike.
- Conversation platform, as an interface, resonates really well with the Indian smartphone and internet users who spend most of their time on messaging apps like Whatsapp, irrespective of the geographies and demographies they fall under. Eradicating the interface acting as a frictional element, it can definitely help push more people towards transacting online, and hence help achieve true digitisation in the country, thus having an overall positive impact on the economy.
- Similarly, building great AI-based platforms needs great talent. AI being one of the less explored areas in our country, there is a dearth of talent. Better infrastructure and training programmes related to AI technologies being included in mainstream courses to facilitate skill building will be a great initiative from the government.
Expectations from CloudSEK: CloudSEK is an AI-based threat intelligence company. Rahul Sasi, the Chief Technical Officer of the company, shares his expectations:
There is a popular belief among the AI communities that, those who control artificial intelligence will be the global power. Countries like US, UK and China have already started allocating funds for AI/Robotics research.
- Hence it is very important that our government allocates necessary funds for AI/Robotics research. Companies like Google have already decided to establish their AI research facility in China. So, it's high time for the government to act and bring these opportunities to India as well.