A Drone May Save Your Life One Day

October 8, 2018 - 10 Comments

This blog post was guest written by Dr. Catherine Ball, founder of the World of Drones Congress and World of Drones Education. She recently presented as part of Cisco’s Women Rock-IT speaker series, which was streamed live from her Twitter account.

Despite the convenience of instantaneous food delivery or the wonder of flying cars, we should not lose sight of the tremendous social change powered by today’s technology advances. Drones and autonomous systems, for example, are creating unforeseen opportunity to make a positive impact in the world.

DJI, a large commercial drone company, recently published an article stating that drones saved more than 65 lives in the last year. Around the world, companies and other organizations are already finding innovative ways to use drones, from those that carry defibrillators to those that act as remotely-piloted helicopters during bushfire responses.

Here in Australia, emergency responders are using drones as part of search-and-rescue missions, traversing terrain unreachable through traditional response efforts. Despite these advances, though, the drone industry faces one glaring problem — the lack of gender diversity.

The statistics are reflective of all aspects of aviation, engineering, and aerospace. The representation of women is in the single-digit range, and it is almost inconceivable that some of our most exciting technology hasn’t reached the depths of our larger community.

So, when the idea of the World of Drones Congress was conceived, I, as technical convener, unequivocally stated that women would be represented equally across all levels and all sessions. At both the 2017 and 2018 World of Drones Congress, women participated equally in every session, from those new to the industry to those who were seniors in their roles.

In 2019, we will continue to see 50% participation by women. Why is this important? Well, to have strong economic growth in the budding drone industry, we need a difference of opinion around the table; we need a full range of thoughts and ideas. We need not just diversity of people, but the inclusion of them, as well. Far too often I have been the only woman in the room, and I am not a person who enjoys that.

Watch Dr. Ball’s webinar below:

If I could ask anyone reading this article to do something, I’d ask you to get a drone—even a small, educational one—and start flying it. Get your whole family to try it, even your grandmother. We need more women and girls, really everyone, getting their hands on these smart, personal aircraft.

In the next push to get drones and robotics into Australia’s economic future, we have to look at how we are dealing with it in schools and colleges. At the moment, the digital technology curriculum is very different and disparate across the country. Some experts suggest the adoption rate is actually very reliant on the confidence and aptitude of the teachers who are being given this task.

Thus, we launched World of Drones Education (WoDE), creating a collective platform for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge and inspiration. With an application and website launching this year, WoDE will be the “Netflix” of resources for teachers, parents, and companies around drones, robotics, and digital technologies — all while representing women in an equal manner.

The new drone economy is significant, and we are at the very beginning. Therefore, we have an opportunity to ensure it becomes a balanced and diverse industry. The economic value of the drone ecosystem has not been quantified for Australia and the region, but if you localize the international studies, we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars of economic potential. The Swiss government are taking drones so seriously that they are now part of the economic growth plan for Switzerland over the next 12 months.

So, how can you get involved in the exciting world of drones? Buy one, have a go (and follow the rules), or even find a local drone enthusiast group so you can try-before-you-buy and see some exciting drone racing. If your company is looking into using drones, get involved with a technical group and throw your hat in the ring for any trials or projects.

Look to your local university and what they are doing with drones and see if there are any ways for you to collaborate or support their projects.

And, of course, you are welcome to connect with me on social media, sign up to WoDE, or download the app when it is released. Drones are here to stay and will be significant in our daily lives in the next few years.

How would you use a drone to make the world a better place?

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  1. Great article well written and very informative. I would love to see "drone racing" in my community. As a matter of fact I bought one for my son for xmas last year but neither of us could get it to work past take off. This wasn't a cheap gift for my budget but it was a huge disappointment because training resources were inadequate for beginners so the excitement faded after several unsuccessful attempts, downloading training app, watching videos and had zero success finding a droid meet-up in our area of Santa Clara County (yes you read it correctly no drone meet-up in the South Bay Area of Silicon Valley (95037)

    I have several ideas to help recruit educators and researchers as well as future droid experts and would love to see women flourish in the field but a good start would be to first ….learn how to fly my droid! #droidtraininginmycity #droidresourcesnearme

  2. I am new to the field of drones, and usually don't like hovering drones to monitor people's lives like a SyFy movie.
    But I do think drones can be a cheaper and efficient alternative to many expensive alternatives.
    A couple mentioned here:-

    Usage 1:- Drones for traffic control. Taking 101 or 880, and an accident, and lane closures. Employ display boards at least 1 mile before freeway entry. Drones would have captured accidents on the freeway, and will calculate current delays via the current speed, and this will be displayed on the 'before-freeway-entry' points, so that commuters can decide to get onto the freeway or delay until accident is cleared.

    Usage 2: California fire controls. Drones to pick up the direction, aerial maps of fires , some intelligence to be inferred on firemen mobilising, and entry-points to firezone for containment based on lessons learned on all recent fires.

    In both cases, helicopter use for monitoring can be minimised., saving on expensive equipment and fuel

    Usage 3: Can a drone detect a gun in a crowd? Can it also detect if the gun has been activated? If so, immediate measures could be applied even before a 911 call is placed, such as a security alarm going off, and alerting people.

  3. It would feel exciting to use a drone and learn about its uses in health and society, but what about the regularization of its use in other countries?
    I'm from Mexico and there are no permission to fly drones, you can even get a penalty fee. I think it would be great to create awareness about its advantages.

  4. Good! Thanks for not being selfish, i think women needs this and i believe it shall be realised, God's willing. Let us move to the next level, together.
    Great innovation!

  5. I like drone technology though in Malawi it is not the most accepted but I feel it has a lot of potential and can be used for various works and I would like the opportunity to learn more about this technology so that I can use it for a productive purpose that I have been thinking on

    It would be appreciated If I could be part of this initiative

  6. I'm creating a drone which can paint the heighted buildings,can clean the windows of skycrapers and can be used as a security purpose. It's a multifuctioned drone. Can I be part of your organization although I've alot of new and creative ideas.

  7. Wow,I know little about this but seems fascinating already…am definately going to learn more and perhaps try this exploration

  8. Drones are now used as surveillance gadgets as they are very helpful used for monitoring the security …women may indulge in it and they can use this technology even for the security of their smart home so its good initiative for women to get hand on this technology

  9. I use a drone to show the beauty of the coastal areas & to cover beach cleanups. I also use an underwater Go-Pro to get footage of the underwater ecosystems & marine animals. From both of these, I have the makings of a brief movie that turns students on to conservation, marine exploration, and technology.