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Industry experts create drone advisory service

It has been announced that the Institute for Drone Technology (IfDT), Paul Sergeant Events (PSE) and Secure Events and Assets (SEAA) are coming together to work on a collaborative drone advisory service. It aims to provide owners and operators of venues with support to better understand and use drone technology to ensure the safety of people and property.

As capability increases and price diminishes, drones are becoming an attractive idea for many venue operators and owners. However, operating a drone comes with a multitude of legal and safety matters that need to be considered. Whilst drones may have grown in popularity, the lack of access to informed advice poses a problem.

By bringing to the table a host of difference experiences and expertise, the service aims to provide a solution. Melbourne-based PSE has be involved in the management and promotion of over 10,000 events, including the Sydney Irish Festival. Paul Sergeant, managing director of PSE, says: “The practical and commercial use of drones can have huge benefits for a business but currently many owners and operators don’t know where to turn for reliable, independent advice.

“Ignorance is no excuse in a court of law and this is just as essential as every other aspect of the industry.”

“There is a host of legalities in relation to airspace to consider and who has what authority and responsibility for what.”

As well as advice on the successful use of drones at events, the drone advisory service will also provide information on counter-drone technology. Besides their practical uses, drones can pose a significant threat to public safety and operators need policies in place to combat this.

Dr Joel Spencer of the IfDT highlights the help the service can give concerned operators: “We will be able to provide the most up to date advice about what kind of options are available to organisations that want to get a better sense of the threats that are in their airspace and in turn what action they need to take.”

This idea of responsibility over public safety is part of the core ethos of the service. Jim Fidler, managing director of SEAA, says: “Ignorance is no excuse in a court of law and this is just as essential as every other aspect of the industry.

“Visitors to events quite rightly expect their safety and security is in good hands so it is imperative the industry stays ahead of any potential threat including those posed by drones.”


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Metallica drone supplier Verity Studios raises $18m

Drone technology company Verity Studios, which has worked with Metallica, Cirque du Soleil and Madison Square Garden, has raised US$18 million in a series-A funding round – an investment the Zurich-based start-up says makes it “the most well-funded company in the rapidly emerging commercial indoor drone market”.

The funding round was led by venture-capital firm Fontinalis Partners, with Airbus Ventures, Kitty Hawk and Sony Innovation Fund also participating. Verity’s founder, robotics/AI expert Raffaello D’Andrea (Kiva Systems/Amazon Robotics), says the company will use the investment to expand its live events business, especially in the US, and expand into other vertical markets.

Since its founding in 2014, Verity’s drone swarms have been used in shows at airports, in arenas and on cruise ships, including by Cirque du Soleil, Madison Square Garden and Princess Cruises.

Its drones were famously seen during Metallica’s record-breaking WorldWired tour, first appearing in Copenhagen during a performance of ‘Moth into Flames’:

Dan Braun, Metallica’s show director, comments: “After the first night, James Hetfield walked over to a microphone and announced to the audience how cool the show had been because of Verity’s drones. It’s magnificent what they are doing, whether you see it live or on social media. The programmers of the drones do a great job.”

“Verity has assembled an exceptional team, with credibility, valuable IP and extensive technical know-how, all while building a fast-growing business in the live events market,” says Chris Cheever, Fontinalis partner, who joins Verity’s board.

“It’s magnificent what they are doing”

“Our firm was founded to invest in and help scale the world’s best mobility technologies, and what Verity has developed has broad applicability beyond entertainment, in the drone industry and in many commercial contexts.”

“I am excited to be involved in Verity, a true pioneer in the drone industry,” adds Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Kitty Hawk, co-founder of Udacity, Google X and Google’s self-driving car team, and another new Verity board member

“I’ve seen the Verity team go from strength to strength and I look forward to being part of its future growth.”


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Hefty fine for man who flew drone over Sheeran show

A man has been fined A$1,050 (US$805) for flying a drone over Ed Sheeran’s show in Brisbane on 21 March.

Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ world tour touched down in Australia on 1 March, visiting Brisbane’s 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium on the 20th and 21st.

According to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which issued the fine for the “hazardous operation of a drone”, the unmanned aircraft was flown at night, in a populous area, within 30 metres of people and beyond line of sight – all prohibited under Australian drone safety regulations.

Queensland police identified the Brisbane-based man flying the drone and provided CASA with evidence of the flight, according to the aviation authority.

Will Robley of Quantum Aviation spoke at ILMC in March about the anti-drone technology used by the company to prevent use of the aircraft at events, against a background of drones now being used to carry weapons or even being used as weapons themselves. “Your event security should consider the threat from above,” he warned.


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