Maynooth University helps to future proof Dublin’s skies

Philip Butterworth-Hayes (PMI Media Ltd), Minister Ossian Smyth, and Professor Tim McCarthy
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 12:45

Maynooth University is collaborating on research into the future of drone flights as part of an initiative to accelerate the potential of drones across local governments in Ireland.

Civil defence, emergency response, public safety, and environmental monitoring applications are already realising the benefits of drone technology. This is just the start of what is possible according to a report, co-authored by Professor Tim McCarthy and Phillip Butterworth Hayes (PMI Media Ltd), on international best practices and future trends in drones.

The report was supported by Maynooth University’s SFI funded U-Flyte Drone Research project.  It is part of the ‘Accelerating the Potential of Drones for Local Government’ project which has been co-funded by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Public Service Innovation Fund and led by Dublin City Council’s Smart Dublin team.

Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth TD, who launched the report at the offices of Dublin City Council said:
“I am delighted to see organisations such as Dublin City Council, the Local Government Management Association (LGMA), the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), Maynooth University, and others come together to think about current and future applications of drone technology and to map out how we can all collaborate to maximise the benefits of these technologies. The DPER Public Service Innovation Fund (PSIF) was designed to support projects like this that are driving innovation across the sector.”

Also released were the results of a national omnibus survey of 900 respondents which found that 84% of respondents felt positive about drone technologies and there is a confidence that drones could be delivering mail (67%) and takeaways (55%) across Ireland by 2025. Concerns that were identified by respondents include the importance of trust, privacy (75%), and safety (50%), key issues that will need to be addressed before the technology realises its full potential.

Professor Tim McCarthy of Maynooth University’s Department of Computer Science is one of Ireland's top drone researchers leading multi-million Euro projects with Science Foundation Ireland and Airbus. He highlighted the importance of collaboration, if Ireland is to realise the potential of drones:
"To move to the next stage there needs to be a significant collaboration with local authorities, industry, the IAA, communities, and other government agencies to collectively roll out these new technologies and to shape a future where drones are helping to support communities in automated environmental monitoring and specialist support services"

"We are already witnessing an increasing array of developments in the drone industry including;  robotic platforms, multimodal sensor technologies coupled with machine learning processors which are helping us to monitor and manage our urban spaces, delivering more efficient services and improving our overall quality of life. These new technologies and services also give rise to real opportunities, to create new jobs and drive innovation.”

Leading international expert Philip Butterworth Hayes and joint author of the best practice report stated:
"Drones are being deployed globally by local governments, fire services, and emergency responders to deliver significant benefits to communities. We are just at the start of this revolution happening in our skies. Increased technology advances will make it possible to automate and scale these services globally, while it's only a matter of time before we see passenger services being rolled out. Paris is likely to be the first city in Europe to operate electric air taxi services, as early as 2024, in time for the Olympic Games.”

“Ireland and Dublin are at the forefront in the use of drones across Europe thanks to progressive policies by the IAA, and programmes such as Smart Dublin and Dublin City Council showing leadership in thinking ahead and future proofing the city."

Owen Keegan, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council stated that:
“The City Council through its fire services, building control, and survey and mapping teams are using drone technologies to allow us to work more safely and efficiently. As we start to consider how we scale these operations it is critical that we continue to do so in a way that builds trust with our communities. I'm delighted to see the Smart Dublin team drive this project with the support of such a wide range of collaborators across industry and academia"

You can download the report from the link here: -