From delivering packages to dramatic film-making, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones are flying more and more in to our day-to-day lives. A simple Google search of drones comes up with a huge (and growing) list of applications from monitoring the Earth’s radiation to hobbies such as amateur photography.
Love ’em or hate ’em, drones are very much here and have landed. To highlight how commercial drones and UAVs are improving our lives and making our world a better place, an international conference is going to be held over three days next year, and it’s going to happen in Bristol!
“Whilst the tech is cool (hello… flying robots!), it’s the application of dronetech which is where it gets really exciting”
DTE17 will welcome a variety of the industry’s leaders giving talks on how to use drone technology in wildlife conservation, disaster relief, education, heritage, art, film and photography.
Noteworthy names include transatlantic aviator Tracey Curtis Taylor, aerial photographer and social media sensation Jaimen Hudson (pictured right), and World Record holder and founder of Stemettes, Anne-Marie Imafidon.
The lineup also includes representatives from BBC Natural History, National Geographic, Poaching Prevention, Bentley, Dancing with Drones, Afrotech and SGS. You can check out the full list of speakers on their website.
“We’re highlighting how commercial drones and UAVs are improving our lives and making our world a better place”
TechSPARK wanted to hear more from Gemma, so we caught up with her to find out exactly what we can expect and why we should be excited a whole year in advance!
TechSPARK: In a nutshell, what is Dronetech Europe 2017, and what are you working on?
Gemma Screen: DTE17 is about the future. It’s a conference and tradeshow in May 2017 highlighting how commercial drones and UAVs are improving our lives and making our world a better place. It’s an open-source, live-streamed event, allowing unprecedented access for people to hear from the innovators, experts and creators that together are driving the incredible ecosystem of drone technology.
At the moment I’m investing a lot of time in our speaker lineup. There’s a danger with these sorts of events that speakers can become predictable; male dominated, over-technical, sales pitches – yawn! DTE17 will shake things up with a truly inspiring and diverse mix of speakers.
TS:What’s the aim of the conference?
GS: It’s not about the tech. It’s about the stories. We want to share stories of how drones are making a difference to the world around us.
Whilst the tech is cool (hello… flying robots!), it’s the application of dronetech which is where it gets really exciting. Inspiration and the sharing of ideas will be key themes throughout the event.
The exhibition, keynote stage and drone fly zone will be free to attend and is where the big ideas will be shared. The conference is the paid-for part of the event and includes industry specific seminars, workshops and film screenings where attendees can get practical advice focused on the industry vertical most relevant to them.
TS: Why have you chosen to host the conference in Bristol?
GS: We want to put Bristol on the map as European capital for drone technology. UWE, University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Lab are doing some incredible research with drones and UAVs, our hope is that DTE17 will help highlight this.
“Bristol is the clear choice for an event combining technology with wider world issues”
Combine this with the prolific number of Bristol-based film and photography companies using UAVs, a thriving number of firms operating in environment and renewables and Bristol’s reputation for sustainability, and Bristol is the clear choice for an event combining technology with wider world issues.
“Drones get a pretty bad rep in the media and are often misunderstood”
TS: Why are you focusing on drones?
GS: There are a couple of reasons. One is that drones get a pretty bad rep in the media and are often misunderstood – associated with military action or colliding with BA. The tech-for-good stories simply don’t get the airtime they deserve.
The other reason is that there’s a big disconnect within the drones industry between the people working on tech for good projects and vendors in the drone industry. The film makers, scientists, and academics that we have spoken to tell us they don’t have a platform to share inspiring stories of how and why they are using drones. Most events focus purely on the tech.
TS: How are drones doing tech for good?
GS:Wow, loads of ways! Some of the most inspiring uses of drones for good which I’ve come across include around animal conservation and anti-poaching (see right), collecting evidence to stop corruption in the developing world and the delivery of medical supplies in areas where aid is hard to reach.
“Drone technology really is a game changer when it comes to potential to save people and planet”
Drone technology really is a game changer when it comes to potential to save people and planet. The seven verticals which we are focusing on are: environment and renewables; sport and performance; agriculture and forestry; film, photography & music; inspection, mapping and surveying; security and law enforcement and emergency response. All with a drones for good angle, so you can see it’s pretty wide reaching.
TS:What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen a drone put to use for?
GS: Ocean Alliance’s Snotbot was a pretty surprising drone – collecting samples of whale snot to monitor the wellbeing of whales and their habitats. Use of drones in organ transportation is another incredible use.
I also love the more creative applications. Performances like the Intel Drone 100 and Dancing With Drones show the beautiful side of technology.
If you are as excited as we are, then there are lots of ways that you can get involved. To attend the event, exhibition tickets are free and conference tickets cost £45/day. They’re offering 3 for 2 on all conference tickets until end of July! Use eventbrite to book your space.