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Flying machines demonstrated in a ballroom.

Drone technologist Samy Kamkar demonstrates the workings of a drone at a conference titled 'Smart Drones for Smart Cities' .

The ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday morning was packed with people who wanted to see a flying machine.

Drone technologist and managing director of Novatech Labs USA Samy Kamkar on Tuesday demonstrated the workings of a drone, a pilotless aircraft you might have seen version of in Toy Land, which costs $30,000 and will be available in four months. "Technology and security really excites me," he said.

Global Capital Partners (GCP) hosted the Drone Conference, and Sameer Lakhani who heads GCP and introduced Kamkar to the audience, is bringing this technology to town.

At the conference (called 'Smart Drones for Smart Cities'), Kamkar took the stage and kept the audience engaged talking about this futuristic drone that can carry a load of 8kg and function for 60 minutes at a height of a kilometre and a half. They are even working on technologies to have the drone fly higher, have them scale the heights of Burj Khalifa.

"Obviously these drones are really cool," Kamkar said. But it's crucial, he explained, for technology to keep up and plug the security lapses that are revealed. A commercially available drone, Kamkar said, is shockingly easy to "skyjack". In fact, in the ballroom of the demonstration, a member in the audience managed to crack the code and take over the maneuvering of the drone from the smart phone in his palm.

Kamkar explained that the drones could be used for search and rescue, for real estate -- land surveying and aerial photography. And being able to carry 8kg (its maximum payload) means a thermal imaging camera can be strapped on to the flying machine and photos clicked from high up. A lesser/lighter payload would mean increased flight time.

Kamkar even projected on a screen in the ballroom a cutting of a newspaper report that Khaleej Times had carried on October 7 -- about RTA using drones to monitor projects.

The report stated that RTA flew a test-drone to monitor the Jumeirah Beach Walkway Project, street lighting units, and completed phases of the Dubai Water Canal project. Among the advantages of the drone proved that it can reach places inaccessible by human work teams -- upper parts of Metro stations, and underneath bridges.

While the drone has not been tested to withstand wind speed, it has been shown to have a better tolerance for a harsh desert climate like Dubai rather than a cold climate. "Any very harsh climate will affect the operability," Kamkar said.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 14, 2014
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