drone-expo-ireland-2016-reviewWere you at Ireland’s 1st Drone Expo? If you missed this event, read what happened here!

The Drone Expo Ireland was held in RDS in Dublin over the weekend 1st April to 3rd April. I was one of the lucky people given a chance to attend this seminal event.

I was looking forward to attending but I’ll be honest, because it was the first year it was being run, I expected that there wouldn’t be much going on!

I was happily disabused of that notion when I had to be dragged out after 5pm on Friday! Where did the time go?

Some facts about Drone Expo Ireland 2016:

  • It was the first drone event in Ireland that catered for the general public as well as drone industry professionals.
  • Some of the exhibitors and sponsors were: Unmanned Aircraft Association of Ireland(UAAI), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), FM 104, iFly Technology, Drone Cover Ireland, Movidius, Yuneec Electric Aviation, Óglaigh na hÉireann, Extreme Fliers, Copter Shop Ireland, CameraCentre, Niall Carroll Photography, Advocate Films and Samsung.
  • Friday was predominantly for the Drone Industry with a full schedule of talks from Industry Experts. Saturday and Sunday also had talks but as the exhibition was open to the public, there was more emphasis on drone demonstrations, drone racing, drone training etc. I think every form of drone work was covered ranging from road surveying to aerials for 3D modelling, drone training, drone search for missing or injured people, infra-red photography of a fire in progress, drone supplies for drone racing and drone videography. So many applications!

Friday’s Scheduled Talks

On Friday, first up was John Wright, Chairman of the UAAI. John talked about the Drone Industry and the future and opportunities it will bring. Key message: Opportunities will only  happen if we work together to ensure regulations are enforced.


Steven Flynn of Skytango with Gearoid O’Briain & Oisin McGrath of iFly Technology

He was followed by our own Steven Flynn, CEO, Skytango who again emphasized community and cooperation in the drone industry because we want to ensure stability and credibility for the future. As this is a fledgling industry, putting in the ground-work now will mean better, safer and more profitable opportunities.

 Oisin McGrath, Chief Flying Instructor with iFly Technology, talked about the use of drones in search and rescue.

He was followed by Gearoid Ó Briain, Chief Ground Instructor with iFly Technology, who spoke about Drones and making money because who doesn’t want to make some money?

Dr. Paul Naessens of Western Aerial Surveys, a field archaeologist, gave a very entertaining talk on the aerial recording and subsequent 3D modelling of archaeological landscapes. This has made surveys a lot cheaper and quicker to process.

Lt. Eoin Murphy of Óglaigh Na hÉireann talked about UAV’s in the Irish Defence Forces.

Ralph James, Director of Safety Regulation, IAA made a point of emphasizing that the drone industry is here to stay and will go from strength to strength and he would like to see Ireland paving the way in this burgeoning industry.


Paul Kennedy, Manager, Aeronautical Services Department, Irish Aviation Authority

Paul Kennedy, Manager, Aeronautical Services Department, IAA talked about the necessity of drone regulation in Ireland as Europe’s airspace western gateway. A key point he made; if your drone is between 1kg and 4kg he recommends training. If above 4kg, training is mandatory.

As well as drone regulation there was emphasis placed on the storage and movement of big data, so Kate Harnett a Solicitor from William Fry gave a talk on Legal and regulatory issues for drone companies with an emphasis on data protection.

Cormac Sreenan, Professor, University College Cork & CONNECT gave a talk on the opportunities opening up for those using drones ranging from search/rescue to wireless network planning and repair.

David Moloney, CTO Movidius talked about how the Movidius chip is at the heart of the autonomous revolution.

Scott Stevenson, Extreme Fliers UK flew a Micro Drone 3.0 over the audience and tweeted its video feed at the same time!

Justin Pringle of Drone Operations UK also spoke about cost effective risk averse sUAS solutions.

Exhibition Hall

When not listening attentively to talks, I visited the exhibition arena.

It was exciting to see so many different drones from quite diverse manufacturers. It was energizing to talk to so many people, passionate about the Irish drone industry. It was fun visiting each exhibitor as they demonstrated or talked enthusiastically about their particular slant on the drone industry be it Colas Ireland, surveying roads or iFly Technology demonstrating their ground school simulator software.

I like that Dublin Fire Brigade is using drones to help during fires, this is important both for the safety of Fire brigade personnel but also for people in or near a fire. HeightTech drones looked seriously impressive, love the orange and black colour combo! Their MosquitoCopter ranks number 4 in the international Drones for Good Award. Drone App Lab were exhibiting, they create drone solutions for sport, tourism and search/rescue. VersaDrones have been involved in engineering SUA/UAB innovations in Ireland since 2011. They design and manufacture quadcopter, hexacopter and octacopter drones. Iris Sky Systems had a stand, they provide aerial photography, surveying and flight training.

There were a few companies who are mainly involved in using drones for survey work, these were Colas Ireland, Leica Geosystems (Seriously cool drone guys!), SkyDrone Survey.

Coverdrone Insurance from the UK also had a stand. They offer insurance for drones.

iGeotec a geospatial technology spin-out from NUI Maynooth have developed a geo-informatics platform, cloud based which handles GPS, digital mapping and other web-location services. Trinity College Dublin(Robotics) were demonstrating a 3D printed hand in action. Pure Magic were there,  I mean, it makes sense, you need a drone to capture those epic kite surfing shots!

Altitude Angel who provide great software to drone operators, manufacturers and developers were in attendance along with Flyte Technology who have written interactive flight planning software.

SonderVisuals, Aerial Eye, SkyVidPro, Digital Photography.ie, Niall Carroll Photography and Advocate Films all had stands displaying some of their aerial work.

Copter Shop Ireland, CameraCentreTNS DistributionModel Heli Services and  Yuneec Electric Aviation all had a wide variety of drones available to peruse and to purchase while demonstrations continued in the indoor and in the outdoor arena the Yuneec Typhoon H and the DJI Phantom 4 were put through their paces in front of potential buyers.

The tiny Micro Drone from Extreme Fliers was very cute but also brilliant from an engineering perspective with interchangeable magnetic parts. How cool is that!

Yuneec Typhoon H Drone

Yuneec Typhoon H Drone

My personal favourite, the Yuneec Typhoon H was particularly impressive outdoors, as it was a blustery wet day and it came through with flying colours!

Drone Racing is addictive. I got to talk to the Irish Drone Racing Champion Slawek Zielinski.

The Drone Racers took over the Arena whenever they had a chance. Watching drone racing really pumps up your adrenalin, be still my racing heart!

On Saturday and Sunday, the general public was in attendance, with many people making their way to Dublin hoping to learn more about drones or how to purchase one.

Talks were held each day on Drone Regulation, Drone Training, Making Money with Drones and Smarter flight planning, all very useful even if you are a hobbyist drone user.

This demonstrated one of the key reasons for the Drone Expo: to inform and educate the public about the drone industry in Ireland and how those involved are taking drones seriously.

Demonstrations continued in the both arenas with drone racing a particular highlight for many.

Drone Expo Ireland 2016 was an absolute success and I will definitely be back next year! Read on to find out more from Ian Kiely, Founder & Organizer of Drone Expo Ireland and what he had to say once he had a little time to catch his breath!

Ian Kiely, Founder & Organizer of Drone Expo Ireland


Ian Keily, Founder & Organizer, Drone Expo Ireland Photo: Irish Independent

Ian Kiely and the stress of success!

How do you feel the Expo went?
We felt the Expo went really well overall. In the end, we had great support from people within the industry and associated technologies. We have also learned a lot and have written reams of notes on areas we would like to improve and new facilities we would like to add. This time around there were areas we could have added more polish to, but we were under serious time and financial constraints.

We put this event together in 5 months and many people we approached had already committed their budgets elsewhere, this was a cause for serious concern in the beginning. Things got so tight time wise that I ended up taking my laptop to Malaysia in January and was working and answering mail while “on holiday”.

Did you get the cross section of public you wanted?
We were very happy with the turnout in general; we targeted a number of industries like architects and project management that might find the technology useful and efficient in their respective industries. We also attracted many families and people with an interest in aviation. There was something for everyone to enjoy.

Many of the general public visitors were interested in the broad range of capabilities drones offer, they were also amazed at the variety of designs and even surprised that there was a whole new sport emerging. A serious number of drones were sold over the weekend with some stands having to send for more stock from as far as Cork.

A number of exhibitors commented that there were no thefts and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming with many interactive gadgets for the attendees to try out. I think that this is one reason the weekend was a success.

Did you get good press from the event?
For starters, we were delighted with the media coverage Skytango supplied and we would like to thank Steven for his presentation also.

Interest from the press was slow to start with, nobody had heard from us before. We were trying to get something new off the ground and I suspect people were waiting to see if we could pull it together. Once the ball started rolling we were inundated with interviews. We partnered with FM104 and the RDS helped us extend our media reach. We were even invited onto a popular breakfast TV show.

We have discovered that people have been uploading tonnes of footage to YouTube; search for Drone Expo Ireland. I particularly like the video that was uploaded by Slawomir Zielinski (currently the Irish FPV champion). We will be releasing a professional video soon ourselves, it is being produced by a start-up called EighthDoor.com. If you go to their site they have posted a one minute preview of Drone Expo Ireland and we love it!

Will you run it again next year?
We will be running the event next year a few weeks earlier, March 10th-12th 2017 RDS Anglesea Road. We will be taking a slightly larger space as we will be expanding the race track and will be working with some new sponsors to create large interactive areas for people to enjoy. We have commitments from all of last year’s exhibitors and we have received calls from other interested parties.

We are considering adding more robotics and IoT-related products/services so we may tinker with the name to include this. We will have more on this later.

MARCH 10th-12th stick it in your diary folks!

Do you feel it was a success?
I have never enjoyed my work so much as I enjoyed this event. A friend called me from Portugal and asked me the same question. I told her that it was like being in playschool with a room full of toys with me in charge of all the toys, so yes, we all felt that it was a success. But now we have a lot to deliver on next year!

In the end, we had 1800 attendees and we gave away another 200+ promotional tickets most of which were used. We snuck in some Leinster rugby guys too and our mates hit us up for free tickets. All in, about 2000 people came through the doors over the 3 days.

Please feel free to contact droneexpoireland@gmail.com if you would like to take part in next year’s event.

Thanks Ian for organizing this event and for the interview!

Some Pictures from my time at Drone Expo Ireland 2016


Gearoid training in the indoor arena


Lucy checks out Samsung’s VR Gear Headset


I met the lovely Sarah & Theo from SonderVisuals


I also bumped into Derek & Aisling from Drone Cover Ireland


Original Folding Cameras from about 1890. See how far we have come!


Seriously, we are using the drone simulator to train, it’s not a game!