Monday, 14 September 2015

Sunday Business Post

Lots of pics taken of the whole team but we were cropped out. Probably best as we all were wearing identical shirts....Good to see Tim and the team getting the exposure though. interesting choice of cropping in this photo too - the black drone in-shot costs about €1k whereas the barely visible orange, Bramor costs tens of €thousands and looks way cooler.

Drone research takes off at Maynooth

03:55, 13 September 2015 by Margaret O'Brien

Dr Tim McCarthy of Maynooth University tests out a drone
By 2020 the civilian drone market could be worth between $5 billion to $15 billion, so it’s hardly surprising that the number of drone patents filed in recent years has risen exponentially. Dr Tim McCarthy and his research team at the National Centre for Geocomputation at Maynooth University are ensuring that Ireland isn’t behind the research curve.
“Our core drone research infrastructure is funded by Science Foundation Ireland [SFI] and we also have a number of R&D projects funded by government agencies and industry,” said McCarthy.
Drone research at Maynooth is carried out across three key areas: mapping and monitoring; safety and regulatory; and emergency support.
“With mapping and monitoring we are using multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal sensors with applications in areas such as oil pollution, in partnership with the Petroleum Infrastructure Programme; precision agriculture, in partnership with Teagasc; coastal mapping with the Marine Institute and NUI Galway, marine and offshore monitoring through SFI’s research centre; and iCrag and forestry through another SFI funded project, in partnership with Treemetrics.
“We usually integrate satellite remote sensing, such as the latest European Space Agency Sentinel platform sensors with drone optical imaging for best results.”
Solutions being researched in safety and regulatory involve risk impact modeling for safe drone operation. The applications focus on the promotion of safe and responsible operation of drones.
“We are providing research support to the recent international start-up company, Verifly – headed by ex-Hailo founder and chief executive Jay Bregman – in developing 4D geofencing. This is essentially a four-dimensional geospatial technology that helps drone operators stay clear of no-fly zones.
“The third area sees us investigate how drone platforms can be utilised to support a variety of emergency and disaster scenarios, such as search and tracking with the Irish coast guard.”
According to McCarthy: “The advantages of drone technology are obvious, because what you have is accessible, affordable, automated airborne technology which can be applied to a range of sectors including natural resource management, critical infrastructure mapping, environmental monitoring, logistics, and disaster management.
However, he conceded the growth in popularity of drones presents its own challenges in terms of regulation, safety and privacy concerns. It is estimated that there are 2.5 million drone enthusiasts globally, with 800,000 plus in Europe. There are an estimated 10,000 commercial remotely piloted aircraft systems operators globally, 4,000 of which are in Europe, accounting for 1.5 million sorties.
“The drone consumer market is doubling, if not tripling each year. The drone enthusiast market for 2015 is set to top $1.7 billion with the US, Europe and Asia the largest markets. Opportunities to develop drone applications are growing in tandem.
“Research is required in areas such as downstream information products, and services such as mapping, monitoring and real-time videography – especially for marine, agriculture, forestry, infrastructure and environment sectors.
“Drones can be effectively deployed in emergency and disaster situations, humanitarian aid and support, law enforcement, security, land surveying, utilities, maritime, environmental monitoring, news gathering, entertainment, social and recreational events, real estate, safety inspection, logistics, parcel delivery, specialised transport, locate and track objects, gaming and so the list goes on.”
He identified drone research opportunities for Ireland as being centred on three key areas, namely, primary drone technologies. such as safety and data sensing technology; drone support service, such as regulatory, privacy and training; and potentially the largest area drone data analytics and geo-information services.
“We can certainly compete internationally in some of these emerging niche sector areas,” he added.
The fledgling Irish drone industry has already received strong support from the Irish Aviation Authority, SFI, Enterprise Ireland, government agencies with wider interest as demonstrated by the recently formed Unmanned Aircraft Association of Ireland and the forthcoming Drone Data X Conference scheduled for November 6 to 8 in Mayo.
“What’s required now is to develop a drone ecosystem in Ireland,” McCarthy said.
“Firstly, carry out a market review of the broader drone industry as it relates to all Irish stakeholders, and from there we need to develop a dedicated strategic research, technology, development and innovation plan for the drone Industry in Ireland.
“We need a working group to be established capable of exploiting this technology to our benefit. A dedicated drone flight-test site is required and finally, we need targeted funding to underpin its success,” McCarthy said.

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My name is Conor. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. These few lines will (hopefully) chart my progress through academia and the world of research.