Drones are changing jobs and creating new ones

November 30, 2015

Total RPA can quickly train you to join the drone industry




Software engineer Cristina Zappullo with a shark-detecting drone. Picture: Jake Nowakowski



Total RPA can quickly train you to join the drone industry


DRONES are changing existing jobs and creating new ones, with business booming for early adopters.

Photographers, surveyors, the TV and advertising industry and building inspectors are all embracing the relatively new technology to make their work easier, safer or more innovative, Total RPA chief executive and chief instructor Andrew Campbell says.


“Most pilots are starting their own businesses with photography or adding aerial photography to their business,” he says.


“We get lots of real estate photographers, general photographers for weddings and things like that, marketing photographers.”


About 90 per cent of the commercial drone market is in photography, followed by mapping and surveying then asset and building inspections.


“Basically, instead of having to put a man on the roof of a building, which requires barricades put up, they can fly a drone over the roof with a high resolution camera,” Campbell says.


“It’s going crazy. People are finding new uses for the things everyday.”


Software engineers are also working with drones, applying the technology in fields such as shark detection.

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The job that will be in huge demand


Australian company Onboard Smarts, part of Swarm UAV, is developing image recognition software to identify sharks from overhead and prevent attacks.


“As the drone flies by the Australian coast, the software will process the images and in real-time find the sharks,” software engineer Cristina Zappullo says.


“This is done by recognising swim patterns and movements. A dolphin’s tail moves up and down, whereas a shark moves from left to right.


“Once it finds (a shark), position and images of it will be sent to people on land.”


She says the benefits of using drones are that the shark is not bothered, as with culling or nets, and drones have more accurate vision from greater distances than people.


Zappullo, who has a background in biomedical engineering, believes this is the first instance of using a shark-detecting algorithm in this way.


She says the combination of recognition software and drones can also be used in other safety applications such as fires and missing person searches.


Where there are drones, jobs for pilots and repairers follow.


Campbell says the Australian Federation of Air Pilots are beginning to list pilot roles for drones among those for planes and helicopters.


“The rate that it’s expanding, I can see a time in the not too distant future where leaving school and becoming a drone pilot will be something that is quite mainstream,” he says.


It takes only a five-day course to become a CASA-qualified commercial drone pilot and Campbell says about five people come through training each week at Total RPA alone.

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