Drones: more than fast, hot pizza delivery in the urban areas

Western Drone Show covers cutting edge technology, agriculture, federal insights into new regulations

If you believe TV ads, you might think drones deliver piping hot pizza to your doorstep. Someday they may, but for now drones perform more serious work.

Those serious tasks are what the Western Drone Show is about. Coming up May 3 in Winnipeg, the Western Drone Show is expected to provide an opportunity for farmers, researchers, agronomists, students, teachers and industry to learn about the latest developments in drone technology and new federal regulations.

Pizza shop owners may also want to attend.

Matthew Johnson of M3 Aerial Productions has been planning the Western Drone Show for two years, and says there is a strong agricultural component in the presentations and exhibitors.

“We’re seeing a lot more certified crop advisers and farmers using drones on a regular basis,” Johnson said in a phone interview.

“For crop scouting, a farmer can buy a camera-equipped, multi-rotor drone for $600. You can’t do precision ag with it, but you can scout your fields quite effectively. Farmers who want to do their own precision ag mapping need a fixed wing aircraft. With the large broad-acre fields we have, the fixed wing is more appropriate. You can expect to spend $20,000.

“For the show, we have Synterra, specialists in precision agriculture imaging. And we have Ag Business and Crop, a Canadian company that specializes in imaging and data collection. Paterna will be there with a fixed-wing mapping drone called the Phoenix.”

He said there will also be GPS and topography demonstrations.

Drone experts from across North America are scheduled to speak about the latest developments. A blend of insights from the airspace regulatory, management and industry viewpoints will be presented by a panel including Transport Canada, Nav Canada and Unmanned Systems Canada.

Transport Canada is expected to provide insight into some of the feedback they’ve received on updated regulations. The conference takes place just before the regulations take effect June 1.

Matthew Johnson is founder of M3 Aerial Productions, a Winnipeg-based RPAS training and services provider. As a teacher, he first used drones as a tool to engage students in Grade 9 math. He saw a marked improvement in student attention, interaction and involvement in lessons when a drone was used to demonstrate real-world applications such as gathering and analyzing data. Students displayed high interest in trigonometry, surface area and volume units when a drone was used as a teaching tool.

Registration is $295. Students pay $100. The conference is limited to 180 people. Registration details can be found here.

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