Flying high

Friday, 21 January, 2022

Flying high

In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today we talk drone technology with Hover UAV’s Jackie Dujmovic.

When Jackie Dujmovic was first introduced to drones, she saw boundless potential. She was so convinced of the promise presented by the then emerging technology, she immediately acquired her UAV licence and founded Hover UAV to further explore the possibilities.

Jackie’s maritime background meant her initial interest leaned to conservation applications, which led to development of a world first — a shark alarm that could be attached to an uncrewed aerial vehicle and help save lives. That same pioneering spirit is still what drives the Hover UAV team. Focused firmly on the future and always a step ahead of the curve, the company is a preferred provider in both the private and public sectors, conducting major drone operations across a range of industries and applications.

We spoke with Jackie about life in a post-pandemic world and what 2022 holds for industry and government when it comes to the use of UAVs.

“While the pandemic presented a few logistical challenges in terms of border closures and other restrictions, it didn’t fundamentally change the way our business operates, because much of what we do is remote.

“Generally, of course, it did create a renewed focus on the future, especially looking at how people will work. When it comes to drones, we are seeing huge interest in moving away from the traditional ‘visual line of sight’ control, where the pilot is onsite, towards highly automated operation — or ‘drone in a box’.

“That’s absolutely where our technology and our offering is headed. We’re in the process of developing a remote operation centre to facilitate this,” she said.

2022 will be a year of reckoning for many organisations, according to Jackie, with one of the greatest challenges being delivery of efficient drone programs.

“The use of drone technology is increasingly attractive for government departments and other industry sectors because there is so much that can be done more effectively and efficiently.

“While many organisations have identified use cases and carried out proven trials, they now need to move beyond that point, and they need to do it safely. This can be a real challenge when aviation is not the core function of your business or agency.

“Regardless of whether the required capability exists in-house or is pulled from an external resource, successful deployment requires clearly defined internal policies and appropriate structures be in place, including a solid digital framework from which to build,” she said.

Ensuring the right people are involved is essential, as is having a clearly defined outcome.

“The CIO is key to the process. While drones are useful for gathering data, success in UAV programs means being clear about what type of data is needed and how it will ultimately be used. This clarity must be there from the outset and the CIO will help define that,” she said.

For agencies hoping to build solid programs around UAV technology, understanding the regulatory requirement and ensuring compliance is a huge part of the undertaking.

“The regulations do change, and that can be a significant challenge if there is a lack of embedded aviation experience. Our position is to support organisations in their individual journeys and to ensure compliance. It’s all part of having a good foundation in place that will enable those agencies to grow and enable them to push to the next level,” she said.

Hover UAV founder and CEO Jackie Dujmovic is a recognised industry innovator and commercial drone pioneer. She will present ‘Drones for mission-critical response’ at the Comms Connect conference being held in Melbourne in March 2022.

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