Local developments needed to spur tech scene

The developments may occur through various ways such as learning from the progress of others, says KKMM minister

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

ADOPTING solutions for domestic needs with the participation of local players can provide the much-needed boost to Malaysia’s technological scene.

Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the government encourages local talents to develop technologies and that there are various ways for developments to occur.

“Firstly, we learn from the progress of others. Secondly, it is not just learning, but innovating and adapting to the knowledge to solve local problems and needs. The third way is being local players; we do not want to just be spectators or imitators when there are more advanced technology developments.

“It is best if we could create new technology or adopt innovations for local needs and most importantly, there must also be participation from local players,” he told reporters after launching Oryctes at the MyDroneX Exclusive event in Cyberjaya yesterday.

Oryctes is the country’s very first spot precision drone designed specifically for the agricultural sector by local start-up Poladrone Sdn Bhd.

Named after the Oryctes Rhinoceros — commonly known as the Rhinoceros Beetle — Oryctes has been successfully engineered to potentially eradicate the agricultural pest known to inflict extensive damage on young oil palm trees.

It uses real-time kinematic positioning and an enhanced GPS (global positioning system) that enables centimetre-level spot spraying through a custom nozzle that accurately sprays the very centre of the oil palm trees and targets the beetles that burrow in the growing shoots.

As the global drone service market is expected to reach RM267.4 billion by 2025, Saifuddin said Oryctes is a good example as it applies technology used around the world, but with local innovation to solve problems in agriculture.

With technology advancing at an overwhelming speed, he said the government must also be quick in providing facilitation, so that there will be no more cases where talented and innovative Malaysians do not receive the help they need.

“I believe now the ecosystem is much better. Poladrone is an example where it was born from a good ecosystem through the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC). We also have Futurise Sdn Bhd which provides further ecosystems,” he said.

Futurise is a safe space for innovators to focus solely on the fine-tuning of their solutions, while the company — which is a wholly owned unit of Cyberview Sdn Bhd — works on regulatory compliance.

Futurise CEO Mahadhir Aziz said the company has made great strides working alongside its partners to ensure symbiosis between the regulation reformation and the industry’s progress that will place Malaysia on the map of technological advancements.

Poladrone founder and CEO Cheong Jin Xi said drones are the next frontier for the global agriculture industry.

“Our vision for Oryctes is to introduce drone spraying as a competitive alternative to traditional labour-intensive methods by providing improved spraying productivity and quality, and we are excited to be launching this first in Malaysia.

“As the value of labour increases, we aim to upskill farmers to harness the potential of drone technology with Oryctes, which is fully designed and developed in Malaysia as an ideal entry point to farming automation,” he said.

The foldable drone, which covers two to three hectares of spraying every hour, comes with a customisable spray system and is available in two models — namely Oryctes Dual and Oryctes Mist.

Oryctes has also been integrated with Airamap, an advanced artificial intelligence powered aerial mapping software that provides user-friendly drone information analysis, visualisation and reporting for businesses.

Malaysia currently accounts for 28% of world palm oil production and 33% of world exports, being one of the biggest producers and exporters of palm oil and palm oil products.

An estimated RM40.25 billion (25%) of palm oil yield is lost annually due to Rhinoceros beetle pest attacks, a significant productivity loss in a global industry valued at over RM161 billion.