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Achill drone conference hears of exciting times ahead in industry


Anton McNulty

WHEN most people think of a drone, two things generally come to mind. The drone used by the US army to carry out air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the other is the latest ‘big boys’ toys’ to fly around and have fun with and take a few aerial photographs.
However, for those who attended the Drones Data X (DDX) Conference held in Dublin and Achill Island over the weekend, their possibilities are endless. To date there are 5,000 drones registered in Ireland and with the technologies advancing at a rapid pace, many industries are now starting to look at using drones to their advantage.
As part of the conference some of the market’s leading players along with investors travelled to Achill for the weekend for an invite only VIP weekend based at the Pure Magic Lodge in Slievemore. This saw the delegates take part in mountain biking, kite surfing and of course droning, along with tech talks and networking opportunities.
The conference heard that the advancement of drone technology meant that there were a multitude of industries such as agriculture, aviation, search and rescue, insurance and medication where they can be used.
Among those who travelled to Achill for the weekend was John MacMahon of Irelandia Aviation which pioneered the low cost carrier model in aviation. He said that while he is not a drone person, he was excited by what he heard in the conference and how the technology can advance the aviation industry in the near future.
Gloria Crispino from Black Channel Ltd explained how in the medical industry drones could be used as a quick and efficient way of transporting samples from a hospital to a laboratory.
Another delegate was Patrick Imbasciani, who is a Senior Director in International Business Development with PrecisionHawk - a drone aerial analysis company - based out of North Carolina.

Cost effective
He told The Mayo News that drones are now a cost effective way of doing business and believes Ireland has the right elements to develop a successful drone industry.
“The way we are approaching global expansion is in partnerships and the reason I am here is to assess how business friendly is Ireland for commercial operations. I met with IAA [Irish Aviation Authority] through this group [DDX] and I was super impressed in how the IAA seem to be to commercial operations.
“DDX is such a good thing because you are helping to educate consumers that this [flying drones] is more than just a hobby. This is a serious commercial tool and so far what I can tell you is that Phil and Pure Magic have brought together the right stakeholders and facilitated conversations that might have taken years to happen,” he explained.
A former US Marine, Mr Imbasciani said he can see opportunities for expansion in agriculture and the insurance industry in Ireland and is ‘excited’ about finding an Irish company to partner with. He added that without the DDX conference, he may not have considered Ireland as a possible market for expansion in Europe.
“It is really smart how DDX did this. We started in Dublin but now we are in the small environment of Achill Island and experiencing local communities and I love the place. One of the biggest determiners of success in business is the strength of the relationships. What DDX does is foster an environment where you can have solid relationships,” he said.