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Drones Are Revolutionizing The Way We Plan Our Built Environments

Since 2016, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) has hosted the annual World of Drones and Robotics Congress (WoDaRC). Commercial drone operators, scientists, academics, defence, government agencies, and hobbyists congregate to share new information and advancements in the realm of drone technology, application, and policy.

On behalf of Gerard Coutts & Associates (GCA) and for the third year running, I presented at the 2020 WoDaRC. It’s been an exciting journey to see how drones have progressed exponentially over a short period of time.

WoDaRC 2020 was a ‘hybrid’ event. In an admirable effort to adapt to the unpredictable Covid-19 climate, the WoDaRC provided registrants with the flexibility to attend either in-person or virtually. Over 700 people from around the world attended last year’s Congress: more than 300 people online and 350 people in person.

Since state borders were shut around Australia, I was able to present virtually from my home in Melbourne, via a pre-recorded presentation, and stream in for the live Q & A component.

Watch the pre-recorded presentation here.

Innovations in Urban Planning | World of Drones & Robotics Congress 2020.

I presented in the ‘Urban Drones, Robotics, AI & Local Government’ session, alongside a line-up of notable speakers who covered a range of fascinating topics centred around the current and future use of drones and robotics in the urban domain.

Some examples included the delivery of food, groceries, and medicine by drone being implemented in Canberra and Queensland (Wing). Melbourne Water using miniature submarines, fitted with high-resolution cameras and lights to conduct underwater inspections of our reservoirs, and conceptual modelling for drone transport systems for people is underway at Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads. The most poignant being Covid vaccines delivered to remote communities by drones that can travel long distances over large bodies of water (Doosan Mobility Innovation).

Wing's drone delivery service in action in Australia:

This year WoDaRC is expanding to include a broader range of topics with a cross-pollination of industries that utilize drones and robotics. GCA will be delivering a joint presentation with Aivia Group, a commercial drone provider with whom we have had the pleasure of working with on previous projects.

So, what are we bringing to the table that is new? Through continued exploration and experimentation, we’ve improved our design processes, and developed unique and advanced solutions to overall project delivery.

By partnering with the Aivia Group, GCA has been able to expand its product offering to now include digital surface models (DSM), i.e., a dimensional-scaled, geo-located digital version of an area of land that is undergoing assessment for development. Additionally, we are continuing to provide high-resolution aerial video and photography.

DSM of Melbourne Innovation Centre site in Alphington, Victoria, captured in March 2021.

DSM has served us as a useful marketing and design tool, especially in the early stages of a project. DSM also has the potential to be of use in the land surveying and civil engineering stages, further down the project management pipeline. This ‘two-in-one’ approach save our clients time and money.

GCA also offers specialized services in the creation of 3D visualizations of proposed infrastructure (BIM and other architectural models), and animated annotations (‘info-graphics’), as well as overlaying them onto DSM and aerial footage. As a result, we can showcase realistic representations of a fully built and functioning land development.

The added benefit of being able to host these products online has proven to be a game changer during Covid-19 lockdowns, allowing GCA to continue projects and present to stakeholders remotely.

Drone technology is leading the way in one of our current projects at Horsham (regional Victoria).

Drone technology and data are innovating the urban planning industry and changing the way we plan, communicate, and deliver urban planning and property development solutions. GCA can now provide stakeholders and communities with a complete and comprehensive experience, to engage with the evolving urban environment.


To stay up-to-date on the World of Drones & Robotics Congress, visit

Register for the 2021 World of Drones and Robotics Congress now at


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