InterDrone: How did you get into the commercial drone space?
Patrick: Cyberhawk was established in 2008 and after gaining a few years? experience, decided they wanted someone with specific experience in the oil and gas sector in order to scale up. They hired me due to my background of working with innovative SMEs in the energy sector and since then, have grown to have operational teams mobilizing to oil and gas projects in 27 countries.
What are your thoughts on its development so far? (Whether it be technologically, legally, or use cases.)
The growth of the commercial drone industry has been mind-blowing. Rapid technology development together with major regulatory changes have played a major part in enabling this growth. For a long time, the latter was probably the biggest barrier to growth, with either highly restrictive legislation in place, or no legislation at all ? meaning no flight permission. Through our global experience Cyberhawk has worked closely with aviation authorities all around the world, communicating the safety, cost and time efficiencies on offer, to allow the application of drone inspection across various industries.
What do you envision the commercial drone space to look like a year from now? 5?
Because of the vast volume of data that drones can collect, management of this data has become paramount and various software solutions to address this have emerged in the last few years. We expect this growth to continue over the next 12 months with machine learning and change detection algorithms starting to play a more significant part. In the longer term, developments such as BVLOS, and exploring the ability for drones to conduct more tactile work, will also open up new opportunities.
If you had one “wish list” item to have in/happen to the industry today, what would it be?
What the industry really requires right now is a standardized level of competence, dependent on the market segment. The most basic level of pilot training may be adequate for outdoor aerial video or photography, however is nowhere near the level required for undertaking an offshore close visual inspection. End users are not always aware of the level of pilot skill they require. As a certified accreditor, Cyberhawk is also aware of the level of competency the assessor must hold in order to deem someone experienced enough for specific types of work.
You’ll be speaking at InterDrone this year. What is your topic? And aside from teaching all the attendees, what else are you most looking forward to at the show?
I”Ll be taking part in the panel “Drones in Energy Inspection: An End-User’s Perspective? where I”Ll be discussing Cyberhawk’s case studies and progress in this sector over the last ten years, including working with all six energy supermajors. This year’s InterDrone has a varied conference programme so we”Ll be interested to hear about the latest developments and applications in other sectors. Visiting the exhibition is also always a great opportunity to see new technology in action and understand how this could be used in real-world projects.