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Careers & Education   >   British Science Week   >   Drones
Day 4: Drones
1 - Introduction
Meet Evandro and Alex, who will introduce you to the world of Drones with experts from BT and Imperial College London:
2 - The Past, Present and Future of Drones with Dave Wilks
Photo of Evandro Pioli Moro
Evandro (host): Find out, from BT's David Wilks, about the history of drones, how they've developed and how they are being used in our everyday lives, the benefits and future possibilities.
Over to you David....
Photo of David Wilks
Photo of David Wilks
David Wilks
Drone Research Manager, BT
Key qualifications: Electronic Communications HND, Pilots Licence, Commercial drone Licence
What does your job involve? My role is researching drone based technologies, creating new ideas and solutions and integrating drones into our communications systems. Best thing about my job - it's also my hobby!  I work with a team of like minded people, my job is just fun, plus I get to play with all the cool toys 😉
How did you get into your current role? Started BT as an Apprentice in 1982 after studying at Sheffield Hallam University. Working in computing for BT in many roles, however BT's is very flexible in promoting new ideas and through perseverance, presentations and demonstrations  I have been able to deliver drone projects into BT.  Drones are now part of BT's strategy . I'm one of those fortunate people that has a passion for something and has converted it into a job.
What did you want to be when you were younger? A pilot.  The dream never went away and I got my pilots licence 10 years ago.
What do you do outside work? I build model aircraft, helicopters, jets, robots and drones. I have a small aeroplane which I love to fly all over Europe. Fun fact: I've built a full size R2D2!
Photo of David Wilks
David: thanks for watching my video, I hope it's given you an insight into the benefits but also the future possibilities of this cool technology!? We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to British Science Week which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com. We also held a live Q&A session on the day, a recording of which can be seen below...
Questions and answers
Question:
As drones get more advanced, will the laws around recreational use have to change?
student profile
Photo of David Wilks
Answer:
Drone technology has advanced so quickly in the past 10 years that the government and the laws have been playing catch up. The laws have now evolved and are based around risk and the safety of people in the air and on the ground. As technology advances so does the safety of the drones, many are now fitted with sophisticated Artificial Intelligence and collision avoidance sensors, GPS geo-fencing that stop them flying in restricted areas and fly home technology. Systems are also being developed to detect drones and to create a virtual air traffic control system that will prevent collisions with aircraft. There is no doubt that the law will change in future but technology will help to make them less restrictive and open up the skies to all users.
Question:
Could drones be used in a bad way?
student profile
Photo of David Wilks
Answer:
History has taught us that technology in the wrong hands can lead to misuse and drones are no different. Luckily there are much cleverer people working on systems to detect and counter any criminal use, plus drones leave a digital signature that can lead to criminals being caught by the good guys. For every bad use of drones, there are hundreds of positive ways that drones will improve our daily lives and help to save lives.
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
3 - Have a Go Activities
Photo of Alex Healing
Alex (host): Shane is going to help you explore what makes things fly. You can have a go at making 5 flying paper creations and investigate what advantages/disadvantages each design may have. You can then have a go at creating your very own drone game. Step by step instructions are available in the activity pack (link below the video).
Download the activity pack
4 - Career profiles
Evandro Pioli Moro
Evandro (host): Have you been inspired by the past and future of drones? You don't have to be a drone pilot but it may help! Take a look at the profiles to see what other roles are available in the world of drones.
Photo of Dave Pankhurst
Photo of Dave Pankhurst
Dave Pankhurst
Head of Drone Solutions, BT
Key qualifications: BSc in Management, MSc in Management Sciences
What does your job involve? My role is to manage a team who build and sell solutions/services to take to customers. I get to speak to brilliant people in my company and work with other companies to create together.
How did you get into your current role? I worked in retail, then did a Technology graduate scheme for the same company, then worked up through different jobs in its Technology organisation, did a secondment in HR for a year, came back into Technology, then went into the commercial side of the company running a Product Management function before running a team as a commercial manager (Head of Drone Solutions).
What did you want to be when you were younger? A Police Dog Handler, then a lawyer, then a commercial lawyer, then 'something in business'.
What do you do outside work? I've just built a house! That and play with my three kids.
Photo of Lucy Davis
Photo of Lucy Davis
Lucy Davis
Product Manager, Drone Solutions
Key qualifications: BA Hons in Business Management
What does your job involve? When launching a new product, there are many ‘touchpoints’ which it needs to go through to get to the end customer; my role is to define the entire product journey from start to finish, and work with various internal or external stakeholders to achieve it and make the product ‘sellable’. As I tend to work with many internal or external stakeholders, I get great exposure across the business, but my day-to-day tends to vary. I often focus on the commercial aspects of product management as I work with a few colleagues that have a great technical understanding, however some of my remits include; defining the overall product strategy, managing pricing and budgets, respond to opportunity submissions, standardising agreements with procurement and legal, designing creative assets with marketing and creating new product processes with the rest of the business.
How did you get into your current role? I worked in a previous technology company after I graduated from university, I knew I wanted to be in product management & marketing so I joined a mentorship scheme to prepare me for an entry – level product management role. From there onwards I have focused on my career progression by getting ‘stuck in’ and finding my own opportunities which even also involved me working in New Zealand before I joined BT in 2019!
What did you want to be when you were younger? I love horses, so I wanted to be a professional equestrian. By the time I was a teenager, I decided that I wanted a career in business (in economics, accounting or marketing). It wasn’t until a-levels and university that I fully understood the remit of business, and decided to follow a career in product management.
What do you do outside work? Pre-COVID-19 I travelled often and I love exploring new places and cultures, I like to go horse – riding and took up Thai boxing at one point. I recently moved so a lot of my time involves redecorating which is great whilst we are in lockdown!
See more career profiles...
5 - Imperial College
Photo of Alex Healing
Alex (host): Meet Mirko Kovac from Imperial College London who will be describing Aerial Robotics for future cities. Find out how aerial robots and drones can support sustainable and healthy living in cities. Discover how new methods in Physical Artificial Intelligence can create lifelike robots.
Over to you, Mirko....
Photo of Mirko Kovac
Photo of Mirko Kovac
Professor Mirko Kovac
Academic, Director of Aerial Robotics Laboratory, Imperial College London and the Head of the Materials and Technology Centre of Robotics at the Empa Material Science Institute in Switzerland.
Key qualifications: PhD with the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).
What does your job involve? Develop new bio-inspired robots with my excellent research group.
How did you get into your current role? Before my current appointment in London, I was post-doctoral researcher at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory as part of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA. I obtained my PhD with the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Prior to that, I received my M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) in 2005. During my studies I was research associate with the University of California in Berkeley USA, RIETER Automotive Switzerland, the WARTSILA Diesel Technology Division in Switzerland, and CISERV in Singapore.
What did you want to be when you were younger? A Swiss watchmaker or explosives expert.
What do you do outside work? Meditating on the future of humanity.
Photo of Mirko Kovac
Mirko: I hope my video has given you an insight into the animal inspired robotics taking place in my aerial robotics lab. We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to British Science Week which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com.
Questions and answers
Question:
Could many drones flying around cities be dangerous to pedestrians?
student profile
Photo of Mirko Kovac
Answer:
In order to avoid the injuries posed by drones we work on autonomous controllers and soft body frames that can avoid collisions or if unavoidable, reduce the force during collision.
Question:
How do drones not crash into each other?
student profile
Photo of Mirko Kovac
Answer:
In our drones we focus on using insect inspired sensing modalities to avoid collisions.
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
6 - Final thoughts from our hosts
Day 5: Health & Sports Science >