Episode 6 – Drones

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Drones have been the hot new technology for a number of years now, and as the technology advances and costs come down, they’re becoming incredibly versatile in how they can be used. FPV (First Person View) racing is an exciting new sport that combines the science of high-tech drones and the thrill of high-speed racing. These tiny racing drones can reach speeds of up to 100km/h and Jonathan visits the Irish Drone Nationals at Mondello Park to try it out for himself…


Kathriona meet Captain Eoin Murphy of the Irish Defence Forces to find out how they’re using drones to target artillery and for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes. Developed and sold by the Israelis, the covert technology is designed to provide close-range monitoring of a target, providing a valuable ‘over the hill’ surveillance asset for troops on peacekeeping missions. With members of the Defence Forces serving in locations such as South Lebanon, Chad or Liberia, the drones will improve protection and reduce the level of threat to Irish peacekeepers on the ground.



With the number of near-misses between drones and aircraft increasing year on year (more than one a week is reported in the UK) drones present a real challenge in terms of security and safety. Aoibhinn meets Ralph James, Director of Safety Regulation with the Irish Aviation Authority to hear about the problems faced by the IAA in dealing with drones and the regulations that are currently in place. Ralph discusses the future applications of drones such as drone taxis in Dubai, and with concerns over large public events being targeted by terrorists flying drones, we find out how Dutch police are training birds of prey to take down drones…



In Weird Science, Fergus finds out how drones could provide x-ray vision to first responders on post-disaster rescue missions…

Weird Science Drones Still


Amazon, food companies, and even Uber are planning to use drone technology to transport goods or people in the near future, but with more and more remote controlled drones in the sky, we’ll be putting intense pressure on the bandwidth and frequency infrastructure needed to maintain video picture quality, and even more importantly, safely control of them. Jonathan meets the Irish Research Council PhD Scholar Evan O’Keefe who is developing solutions to enable drone technology to change, upgrade, or repair itself to get the best possible transmission which helps both the drone, as it can be controlled far more reliably and not crash, and the user who can get higher quality data and video feedback.


Modern stealth warfare has helped developed them, but increasingly we’re using drone technology to save lives. In the hills of Donegal, Aoibhinn joins in on a training session with the Donegal Mountain Rescue team who are using the latest high tech drones and software which has been developed by Irish researchers DroneSAR to significantly reduce the time it takes to locate casualties. The Irish Coastguard is also starting to use this technology so we plan to meet them and some of the people who have been rescued with the help of these robotic eyes in the sky!



Check it out on RTE One, 8.30pm, Monday 18th December!

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