Drone tech could become a billion pound industry in north, conference hears

Angoka's chief technology officer Shadi Razak.

THE advanced air mobility (AAM) sector could become a billion pound industry in Northern Ireland, a Belfast conference has heard.

AAM, which includes drone and unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) technology, remains in its infancy here.

But an event in Belfast was told this week that thousands of unmanned aircraft could be in daily commercial and service use here before 2030.

The summit, organised by tech security firm Angoka at KPMG’s Belfast headquarters, heard the sector could be worth up to £2 billion in exports for Northern Ireland’s economy.

Angoka’s chief technology officer Shadi Razak told the international audience that UAVs including cargo and passenger carrying devices were no longer a futuristic proposition.

“The future of AAM for commercial, defence and blue light usage is now upon us,” he said.

“Now we need to quickly prove the reliability and safety of these drones and the systems and frameworks within which they can operate.”

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The Belfast tech firm has been involved in protecting such technology from hackers and other forms of inference.

KPMG’s Chris Brown, head of strategy at KPMG Ireland said Northern Ireland is well positioned to benefit from the emerging sector courtesy of its aerospace supply chain and growing cyber security cluster.

“Investing in a new ecosystem to support AAM will involve significant coordination of effort and investment, but will bring a range of benefits to the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ireland.”

Comparing the investment required to that of building roads, railways and bridges, he said the benefits could include faster medical deliveries and emergency relief; leapfrogging Belfast-centric infrastructure bottlenecks; and connectivity of under-served locations.