Catherine is a Scientific Futurist, Tech Influencer, Author, Champion of Diversity, Drone Expert and Associate Professor. She is also Co-Creator of the World of Drones & Robotics Congress held annually in Brisbane.
SkyStock (SS): You have quite a list of titles. When people ask you what you do, how do you summarise it?
Catherine: I call myself a person with a portfolio career. After being made redundant in 2015, I decided I never wanted to be in this position again. I started getting into creating several different businesses to diversify my income stream. To have a diverse income stream is something that I’ve been spending the last six years curating.
SS: What are you currently working on?
Catherine: My main role is as an associate professor of engineering at the Australian National University. We are creating a diverse drone training and education capability inside the school of engineering. It’s very exciting with brand new courses and brand-new opportunities, which is what I love.
SS: Tell us more about the World of Drones & Robotics Congress and what happens during the event?
Catherine: This will be our 5th one which is crazy. I wanted to start conversations around the business of using drones, not just the tech. The tech is interesting, but other people talk about that. The regulation is of course important, but other people talk about that. I wanted to talk about the business, the economics, the reason why we would have drones as part of business in small, medium, and large corporates.
SS: You have recently added “Robotics” into the title. Why is that?
Catherine: The congress has evolved because all drones are robots, but not all robots are drones. One of the things that I saw is that people were lumping drones into one of two baskets. They were either thinking of them as little toys or as big military death machines. I think that’s a very unfair assessment of the technological capability of these kinds of platforms. I added on the word robotics because every conference we were having sessions on artificial intelligence, cyber security, the robotics roadmap with wonderful Dr Sue Kay and the conference was about drones and robotics because the people making these decisions needed to know about the whole ecosystem. You get to meet everybody from venture capitalists, defence science advisors, government leaders, teachers, start-ups and people developing the tech. It’s a full view of the ecosystem.
SS: Is it to be held in Brisbane again?
Catherine: Yes, at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on August 18 & 19. As one of the few events to actually take place in 2020, we are also well set up as a hybrid event. We’ve always thought that has been important to try and reach people who couldn’t travel. There’s nothing more boring than watching people chat on Zoom. With our hybrid set up you can watch somebody who’s on a stage and you can ask questions in real time and connect with these people.
SS: What is the cost to attend?
Catherine: We have a range of different options to attend, whether it be for the whole congress, or just a particular half day. Prices start from $82 and you can see further information on our website.
We are currently offering a 20% early bird discount, simply use the code EARLY21 before June 17th. Also, we are happy to offer SkyStock members an exclusive 25% discount code, log into your dashboard to see it.
SS: Anything else we should know about?
Catherine: We have a call for abstracts open however it’s nearly full. We will have more events over the next two years as well. If you don’t get into this one in Brisbane, touch base regardless for the future. If people don’t get in, just keep trying, because we want to get everyone’s voices heard.
SS: How could some of our followers get their ideas in front of the delegates visiting the Congress?
We have pods and digital exhibits available for businesses which we have reduced the price on for this year. Get in contact with us and we will see what we can do for you. Last year we had about 1,000 delegates which maxed out our limits in the Convention Centre.
SS: Besides the Congress what else are you working on?
Catherine: One of the big announcements in the last few weeks has been the new XPrize which will be based around climate change. It will be the biggest XPrize they’ve ever done. They have asked a handful of leaders from around the world to be part of their brains trust. They invited me to be the brains trust to help them develop this brand-new challenge to combat the climate emergency.
SS: Finally, what excites you the most about the future of the industry?
Catherine: I think this idea now of moving into the fifth industrial revolution, where we looked at the social purposes to why we have technology; drones are going to be at the forefront of how we actually allow society to engage with emerging technologies. If you said to me, fewer than 3% of Australian board directors have STEM skills, what’s the first thing you would do to get a board director interested in STEM, I’d take them out to fly a drone with them. I’d say, you have just had your hands on some of the most exciting, egalitarian, exponential technology that exists. How do you feel? So, for me, engaging the boardroom and engaging society with the power of good that can be from drone technology is an area I will never get tired of being excited about.
You can find out more about Dr Catherine Ball and the World of Drones & Robotics Congress with the links below.
Dr Catherine Ball:
World of Drones & Robotics Congress:
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