- Think about the T-Ford years ago. What would the world be today if we had not had cars? This is not a mysterious industry, but we can cooperate the development of drones with the development of the car industry and the aviation industry, Senior Researcher and Dr. Philos. May-Britt Ellingsen of Norut says.
- Northern Norway has tremendous potential for developing a drone industry, she says decidedly.
- We have just barely seen the beginning of what drones might be used for, and this is a big cake that can cater for many, Ellingsen says. She encourages cooperation all across Northern Norway in order to reach the potential inherent in the relatively new industry of drones.
The development is rapid, to say the least, of both the drone technology itself as well as the many areas of operations in which drones may be used. The “Drones in Norway 2017” conference yesterday gathered everyone; business actors, politicians, the Defence Ministry, 16-year-olds and Ph.D. students.
Senior Researcher May-Britt Ellingsen, who is affiliated with Norut (the Northern Research Institute) in Tromsø, Norway, believes that the young attendees of the conference will be very busy in the years to come. In order to take out the business potential of the industry, there must be a constant developing of services, she says, and that is where training will be crucial.
- There is business potential in both data processing, process handling and analysis, and we must emphasize knowledge and training, she says, and encourages young people to keep it up:
- This is where the most interesting jobs of the future will be, believe me. She kindles the fire of all 500 participants in the conference hall.
Both the industry and the various knowledge clusters realized a l long time ago that the cannot know today what many of the opportunities of tomorrow’s drone technology may open up for. But plenty of potential application areas are already in sight across a broad variety of businesses and industries, both in the private and the public sector. Monitoring, SAR, farming, earth observation, fisheries, minerals and reindeer counting are to mention but a few. The list is long.
Ellingsen is at present working on a project that investigates the business potential of the thriving development of drones has, both nationally but also in an Arctic Norwegian perspective.
- We must cooperate
- What is the most important message you wish to convey here today?
- That is the necessity of cooperation here in the North if we are to be able to create something of value. We have complementary knowledge; Tromsø with is knowledge and research, Bodø with its aviation expertise, and Andøya with its infrastructure. That could constitute a fabulous cluster. Our authorities also need to develop a political strategy rapidly and apply it. We must also make sure we are involved in the European processes of developing a regulatory framework, she says.
- It is also vital for our politicians to open their eyes for the future potential of this industry. When positioned early we can take an advantageous position, the Senior Researcher says engagingly.
MP Eirik Sivertsen (Labour), who chairs the parliament’s Arctic Committee, is particularly concerned with digitalization and what opportunities the drone technology can offer the many sea-related industries in the North.
- We have leading environments for operating drones, there is a potential here for further Norwegian development, and for Norway to take a leading position. This is just the early beginning, he says.
- If you can operate a drone in the Arctic, you can operate a drone anywhere in the world, he adds.
- Do you feel comforted after hearing the talks from the politicians who addressed the audience today?
- Yes, I think both gave promising signals, however, the question is of course how broadly based this is, Senior Researcher May-Britt Ellingsen says.
- All politicians may not be quite ‘up there’ as far as knowledge of the industry goes, however, those who are here are very much ‘on’, and that is good to hear, Ellingsen says, referring to MP Eirik Sivertsen (Labour) and Transport Undersecretary Tom Cato Karlsen (Progress Party).
One of the trends Ellingsen referred to at yesterday’s conference is how the sale of drones on the non-professional market is expanding. According to her, about one million non-professional drones are sold in Europe as of today. If we jump forward to year 2025, this number is expected to rise to about 7 millions. The technology is available both for 10-year olds with noble intents, and for operators with less noble intents.
- The needs for protection out there are many, prominent and immediate, Knut Torbjørn Moe, Managing Director of the Norwegian company Squarehead Technology, which among others sells advanced wiretapping technology, said at last year’s drone conference.
What the industry itself as well as the politicians present seemed to agree on, is the importance of being in the lead of the development of good and dynamic regulations that control what is permitted and not. The topic is extensive and covers everything from privacy and protecting civil freedoms to security for passenger aircrafts when meeting smaller and larger unmanned drones.
Representatives from the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, the University of Tromsø, Andøya Space Centre, Salten Fire Services and the Norwegian Pilots’ Association were among the speakers yesterday.