We had a full day with nine presentations today. Topics covered were diverse and ranged from: using drones for forensic purposes for traffic accidents; discussing why more women should be in the drone industry; applying drones to humanitarian and disaster management in Malawi; using drones for construction management in Ghana; alternative power supplies for drones; undertaking infrastructure inspections (pipelines, railroads and power lines); using drones in the film industry: insurance coverage for drone operations; and the systems and aircraft being developed by Airbus.
The presentation by Stan Bezuidenhout, on using drones for traffic accidents, was noteworthy on account of the topic covered. But it was also interesting because he made it clear he did not need the biggest, best or most sophisticated drone, as is common to other applications. A small drone with at least a 2 megapixel camera and 10 minutes flying time was enough for his work! It shows how easy it is to get carried away by all the exciting technology and new developments with drones!
Dr. Denise Bjorkman from The Drone Portal raised the issue of women in the drone industry and why there should be so few when women have the skills to be good pilots. It is the aim of The Drone Portal to facilitate a transformation in the industry and increase the number of women pilots.
Adam Rosman, Aerial Monitoring Solutions, a Wineberg based drone manufacturing company explained how their systems are used for monitoring rail roads, pipelines and power lines. He believes the future will see drones taking on more and more of the 3D jobs – i.e. Dull, Dirty and Dangerous – common to the maintenance of power lines, railroads and pipelines.
It was interesting to hear how drones are taking off (sorry!) in Ghana and Malawi. The latter has been in the news due to the proactive and forward-thinking approach adopted by the authorities to establishing a dedicated corridor for drone operators to test drones for humanitarian and disaster management uses. Matthias Boyen explained how UNICEF has worked with the Malawi government on this initiative and the progress being made. Kwamena Hazel of Autoshutter gave an inspiring presentation on how he got into flying probably the first drone in Ghana. He has since become a dominant operator in Ghana for using drones in construction and property development. He outlined a number of lessons learned thus far and that the market for drone use in Ghana is going to be huge.
Bryan Verpoort from iToo Special Risk insurance company set out the trends in drone uses and the coverage the provide licensed operators and pilots. He was sympathetic to the plight of the potential operators stuck in the length licensing process. He was especially concerned that would pilots and operators were giving up on the regulatory process in South Africa and operating elsewhere in Africa. He also suggested the establishment of a central registration database for all drones created along the lines of RICA process for cellphones.