Zack Wasson – Founder of Diodrone
This months community profile is on Zack Wasson, the founder of Diodrone. Providing premium services in drone data capture, laser scanning, geospatial analysis and 3D modelling Diodrone is making waves across Australia’s Engineering and Infrastructure sectors.
Company name: Diodrone
Position: CEO and Founder
Business type: Service Provider
When and how did you first get into the drone industry?
I had been working for a specialised engineering contractor quite heavily involved in slope stabilisation and asset maintenance where I had firsthand experience and exposure into the challenges of scoping and planning infrastructure projects and asset maintenance. The uncertainty resulted in huge risk – somewhat from a safety perspective but, perhaps more commonly, from a commercial perspective. Poorly informed engineering designs, not from lack of effort or expertise on behalf of the engineer but from a lack of information, led to large variations, budget blowouts and programme delays. Sometime in early 2015, I started to become aware of drones and it was on a railway project, in particular, where I hatched the idea of using drones and photogrammetry to create a digital model of the site and use that to scope, design and plan a slope stabilisation solution. It was August 2015 that I bought my first drone and a Pix4D licence and in January 2016 I launched Diodrone with the goal of innovating infrastructure through the application of unmanned aerial solutions. We’ve somewhat outgrown that initial vision and while drones are certainly still a staple of our toolkit, we have re-focussed our vision towards providing innovative geospatial and reality capture solutions.
Can you give an example of a recent project?
We’re most commonly using drones to capture LiDAR and photogrammetry data for infrastructure operators and engineers. LiDAR provides a reliable digital terrain model and photogrammetry provides a rich visualisation which is easily interpreted. This year has seen a lot of water infrastructure related works – we recently covered a dam with LiDAR to create digital elevation models and high resolution photogrammetry models for geological mapping and general site visualisation.
What changes/developments have you noticed over the last few years?
I think the most noticeable change is that we’re now through the initial peak of the ‘drone’ and ‘digital twin’ hype cycle… our data suggests that peak was in late 2018. Since then, and as our clients mature in their use of digital/geospatial data, we’ve seen larger projects come online in a more competitive environment.
What challenges have you experienced in your time?
More than I care to recall! The most prevalent and ongoing challenge is perhaps working with clients to help them extract the maximum value from the data. There’s a lot of unrealised value in a lot of disparate data sets out there…
Where do you see the Australian drone industry in 10 years time?
To be honest, I’m not convinced there’ll be much of a ‘drone industry’ in 10 years’ time – unless you’re a manufacturer or something like that, and even then I doubt there’ll be much of that in Australia. Ultimately the drone is just a tool, admittedly a little more complex than a hammer, but a tool nonetheless. As the drone industry continues to mature, I see it becoming more vertically integrated with some of the more conventional industries like surveying, engineering, photography/media, logistics, transport, etc. There’ll always be a few small businesses whose value proposition is that they’ll come and fly a drone for you, but I think the bulk of drone operations will fly under another industry’s banner.
To find out more about Zack and Diodrone visit www.diodrone.com.