From quick deliveries during rush hour to transporting life changing medical supplies, over the past few years, the adoption of drone technology has become central to the function of various businesses and governmental organisations.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, adapting and innovating has never been so important in helping to create more sustainable outcomes for all.
As we progress further into 2020, pushing past the bushfire crisis which gripped the world, and work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the opportunities that exist for tapping into innovative technologies, and more specifically, unmanned aerial vehicles?
Driving change within society
Beyond delivering fast food takeaways and Amazon parcels, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles can serve a really powerful purpose within society: helping to create a healthier, safer and more sustainable world for more.
Going forward, the opportunities for drones and innovative technologies should go beyond delivering burritos — it should be about making a tangible positive impact on our world.
Whether that’s on an industrial level, helping to boost growth in agriculture, or in healthcare, helping to provide essential supplies to those in remote locations. The applications for such technologies are endless.
As an example, at Swoop Aero, we recently became the first in the world to deliver medical supplies from outside the country of operation, providing medical supplies for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, including masks and drugs to those in Malawi, from Australia, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This meant that even amid travel bans, locals still had access to the very necessary resources needed, helping to ensure equitable healthcare for more — no matter where they’re based.
Future-proofing our cities
Today, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and this figure is set to increase to 68 per cent by 2050 — an expected increase of over 23 per cent.
This human shift from rural to urban areas is prompting governments, communities and businesses to begin thinking holistically about how infrastructure, transport, health and wellbeing will operate in the future, and how they’ll play a key role in planning for our future cities.
With more discussion on the value of Smart cities than ever before, we’re witnessing the convergence of our digital and physical worlds at a rapid pace.
In Australia alone, in the past year, CSIRO’s Data61 rolled out its NSW Digital Twin technology, improving urban planning, while Darwin has begun to power ahead with its Smart lighting technology.
Australia’s cities are becoming smarter, and there’s a huge opportunity for drone technology to take a leading role in helping to develop future cities.
The integration of air logistics alongside traditional transport methods, and operated as a single network, provides an opportunity to transform the supply chain and future-proof the provision and accessibility of essential supplies in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working in collaboration
The future of drone technology relies on working collaboratively and in unison with governments, regulatory bodies and local communities. The use of innovative technologies cannot happen in silo for the best result to be achieved.
Aviation regulators like the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Vanuatu and New Zealand are the guardians of the skies and their role is to ensure everybody, in the air and on the ground, is kept safe from potential risks associated with aviation.
Procedures and policies must be in place to ensure those in operation are doing so in a safe and informed manner. The global pandemic has been just one test of the regulatory challenges that prevented drone technology from being deployed to its full potential.
In our submission to the Australian government’s COVID-19 inquiry, we recommended CASA prioritise applications that benefit health outcomes and stated that innovation should drive responses to a pandemic, should a similar situation ever arise again.
It’s also a careful balancing act, though — too much regulation has the potential to stifle innovation, which plays a crucial role in driving society forward, while too little can cause risks to citizen safety.
Balancing both regulation and innovation is the key to unlocking success. However, progress is not only possible, it’s happening right now.
Across the globe, we’re witnessing innovators partnering with governments and local communities across all levels, with a vested interest in working collaboratively and creating a better world for more.
The opportunities at our fingertips are endless when it comes to the use of drone technology. Ultimately, though, we have an opportunity to create a real, lasting change within society, positively impacting not only humans, but also the planet, so isn’t it time we grasped it with both hands?
Eric Peck is the CEO and co-founder at Swoop Aero, which transforms the way the world moves essential supplies and enables access to healthcare for millions across the world. Founded in 2017, this Australian born and bred company is bringing healthcare logistics into the 21st century by deploying two-way drone networks capable of delivering essential medical supplies to urban, rural and remote areas globally. Their managed air transport service provides access to the skies to ensure sustainable, safe and reliable provision of essential health supplies. Unmanned vehicles are at the heart of the next significant shift in supply chain logistics. From the UN to USAid and the Gates Foundation, they are trusted to create value by sustainably transforming health supply chains.