30. 03. 2017.

DRONEfest gathers experts and flying enthusiasts - yet again!

The second edition of DRONEfest, a business-technology conference hosted by the IT company IN2 and Eventa01 agency, started this morning at Zagreb’s Plaza Event center. More than 300 participants from eight regional countries attended the event.

The first series of presentations provided an outlook on regulation and rules that drone owners in both Croatia and worldwide have to abide to. The most insightful of lectures in this part were given by M.Sc. Ivan Landek from State Geodetic Administration (Državna geodetska uprava - DGU) and Damir Bezik from Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (Hrvatska agencija za civilno zrakoplovstvo - HACZ), due to the fact that these institutions oversee and regulate all activities related to aerial recording and drone piloting in Croatia.

Ivan Landek talked about the newly implemented regulation on aerial recording and photography which, to a certain extent, simplifies submission and approval of drone recording with the institution. This also positively reflects on time needed to obtain permits for general, industry and news and media-related aerial recording. This is particularly significant for national TV stations which, as of now, are allowed to use the drone-recorded content without needing to clear it first with the agency. Landek’s lecture and comments issued by the expert community at the conference are bound to positively influence further developments regarding oversight and regulation of drone-related activities.

Damir Bezik provided an outlook on upcoming changes in national regulation of drone-related operations that could be approved by the end of the year. These changes should make Croatia better aligned with the regulative concept aimed to be implemented by the EU. The regulatory track was concluded by a panel discussion that, along with Landek and Bezik, included Danijel Petrović from Croatian Association for unmanned aerial systems (Hrvatska udruga bespilotnih sustava - HUBS), Branko Drakulić from Snimanje.hr and Marinko Keser from Croatia Control (Hrvatska kontrola zračne plovidbe - HKZP). The panel was moderated by the editor-in-chief of ICTbusiness.info web portal. The key topic of the discussion were difficulties in aligning regulation so that it pleases both those who lobby for as simple procedures as possible and those who are worried about unforeseen dangers in widespread drone usage, as well as understaffing in agencies and services implementing the present regulation..

Technology solutions inspired by nature

The conference keynote speaker Ph.D. Mirko Kovač, a director of Aerial Robotics Lab at the Imperial College in London, presented some of the projects of the leading British drone lab. What is special about them is that they often find inspiration in nature. One such project is thus involved in development of unmanned aerial vehicles that resemble birds. In addition, they are able to operate underwater and get airborne once their task is done. Many of their other creations draw from the nature as well, e.g. employing drones in creation of complex structures resembling spider nets.

A unique wind-turbine inspection project by Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb

While presentations and lectures took place, partners and exhibitors at the conference presented their products and services at the Expo area and in the Fly zone (with free attendance for the general public today and tomorrow). M SAN group, Aviteh and Geocentar showed the gathered audience how several types of Topcon, DJI and Yuneec unmanned aerial vehicles handle in flight. The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb was nevertheless the star of the show. The faculty staff erected a four-meter wind-turbine model in the Fly zone in order to show a drone-assisted inspection technique they are working on. Their project qualified among the top five in the still ongoing European Robotics Challenges (EUROC) competition. Their technique is unique as they are able to inspect the wind-turbine blades for damage while in operation, compared to other methods that requre a wind-turbine to shut down prior to inspection. Using laser to identify blades and activate the onboard camera, a drone photographs blade segments and sends the pictures to the operator’s workstation. Although the entire process is fully automated and autonomous, the faculty staff showed a manual drone operation procedure at the conference. Should their project qualify among top two at the EUROC competition, they will be awarded EUR 300.000. In that case, the next phase of the competition is a practical demonstration of inspection of a wind-turbine in Spain. Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb is partnering with the University of Dubrovnik and the Spanish company Diagnostiqua in this project.

“Continued development of unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors opens a multitude of possibilities for new and innovative business scenarios in various business verticals. This conference represents a unique platform for everyone who wants to further their knowledge and business by employing unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced software solutions based on these platforms”, said Katarina Šiber Makar, member of IN2 management board.

M SAN groups is the key conference partner. Other conference partners include Aviteh, Croatian Civil Aviation Agency and Croatia Control. The conference is sponsored by the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zagreb. DRONEfest media sponsors include: Aerosvijet, Agroklub.com, Agroportal.hr, CroPC.net, DFM Magazin, Fotografija.hr, ICTbusiness.info, Infotrend, ITbizcrunch.com, Netokracija.com, Novi MIlenij, PoslovniPuls.com, Preporucamo.com, Racunalo.com, Radiobit.in, Rep.hr, Tangosix.rs, Tportal.hr and Vidi.

More information about the DRONEfest conference can be found at the official web site dronefest.in2.hr.