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Flying Towards the Future

The future of drone application is looking bright in North Queensland thanks to the emergence of new technological developments and a surge in commercial market opportunities that is set to build upon the region’s strong ecosystem and take both local business and the North forward into the future. 

Kerrie Hinschen, founder of Townsville drone company, Infiniti AI, says there has been a spike in local businesses augmenting drone technology into their strategy to advance the growth of their sectors and deliver services in a new and more efficient manner.

“The potential and scope for drone application in the region is enormously diverse and we are already seeing numerous different industries capitalising on this technology to solve their own unique business problems,” she explains. 

“Local industries such as mining and agriculture can make use of surveying and photogrammetry, SME’s can augment their established businesses, and now we have great advances in the restoration and environmental arenas, all of which are providing huge business benefits and cost-effective solutions.”

It is estimated drones and air mobility sectors will sustain 5,500 jobs annually over the next decade. Townsville City Council Sustainability Officer, Dylan Furnell, says this increase in drone developments is set to be a key frontier that will revolutionise the way businesses operate in North Queensland. 

“The Federal Government’s recent investment and support of drone technology in regional areas has highlighted how the future of drones in the North will have strong investment, job growth and build upon our already highly skilled workforce,” he explains. 

“North Queensland is now in a position to utilise its strengths to support the use of drones for a wide range of medical, transport, safety and environmental uses and harness locals skills to strengthen both the economy and regional drone development.” 

The targeted investment in regional areas, such as Cloncurry’s new drone flight testing facility which launched in 2020, has provided Townsville with the opportunity to collaborate with other key industry players and has valuably positioned the North as a hub for drone innovation and development.

“Through investment in regional areas such as Cloncurry we are seeing dedicated airspace to support companies to test equipment on home soil,” explains Dylan. 

“With the Australian Institute of Marine Science recently announcing their new ReefWorks tropical marine testing facility for unmanned, and autonomous aerial, surface and underwater systems out of Townsville, there is now a real drive for this technology and the need to specialise in fields that can develop, test and repair it, which will be critical to the North’s success.”

Kerrie agrees and says a collaborative mentality is the key to building on the North’s existing expertise and status as an innovation leader to benefit from the growth in this market. 

“If you’re wanting to know more about how you can incorporate drones into your business strategy, there are so many local experts in the region you can talk to,” she continues. 

“The more we can help build each other up the better the outcome will be for both the technology and our region.

“Working in isolation or from a competitive mindset will only lead to a harder journey so through inspiring collaboration between other key industry players, we hope to lead the way into the future with drone technology.” 

By Georgie Desailly. 

Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She is preparing to study with The School of The New York Times later this year before commencing her journalism qualifications.