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How the Malaysian drone scene is finding new ways to survive the ‘new normal’

Many sectors of the economy suffered during the Covid-19 movement control order (MCO).

One of it was the local drone scene which has suffered losses after outdoor activities were banned for three months aside from cancellation of events due to the pandemic.

For 19-year-old professional drone racer, Muhammad Adam Mohammad Khuzairi, the MCO has made quite an impact on his drone racing activity since tournaments which he was supposed to take part in were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Apart from that, Adam also said that he had to cancel his drone training sessions as well.

“I was supposed to take part in the Korea World Cup and Turkey World Cup this year but both of them have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told Malay Mail.

Muhammad Adam has been piloting race drones for five years now. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Adam, who started drone racing since he was 14 years old, has now joined over 30 drone racing tournaments locally and internationally, and he has won 15 of them making him one of Malaysia top drone racers.

As tournaments and events are still on hold, Adam has no choice but to venture into shooting videos using his drone.

He was recently approached by local actor, Syafiq Kyle for a filming collaboration.

“I am still active in the field of drones and because piloting drones has been my passion, I have found a new alternative to fly my drone.”

According to Adam, drone pilots need to have perfect hands coordinations to fly a drone. — Picture by Arif Zikri

By using a first person view (FPV) racing drone for shooting, Adam is looking to bring something different to the filming sector.

“Basically, instead of using the normal drone for shooting, we are using racing drones to bring a whole new experience in shooting videos.”

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“I’m also trying to show videographers the true capabilities of a FPV drone in shooting where the FPV drone is capable of shooting videos from angles that normal drones and cameras couldn’t.”

“For example, FPV drones can get into tight spaces and overcome barriers thus resulting in some remarkable shots,” he said.

Although Adam is busy with his drone shooting, he admitted that he has not given up on drone racing and he has already restarted his training at the same time.

For technical manager at Unisky, a local drone service provider and supplier, Amir Haziq Saiful Rijal, the MCO has cost them a lot of jobs and sales and not to mention drone events that had to be cancelled or postponed.

However, Amir admitted that there has been a rise in drone orders since the conditional MCO (CMCO).

“Our sales have been growing even more when the RMCO were announced.”

“To think of it, we are actually making more sales during the CMCO and RMCO compared to our usual business days.”

“I think the reason behind the rising numbers of sales lately is because people are now more interested in drone piloting and making it their new hobby,” Amir said.

He added that the drone industry was going to receive more recognition in the future and it could create job opportunities in sectors like filming, agriculture and even in the academic sector.

“As one of the drone service providers and suppliers in Malaysia, there are still a lot of unexplored fields where the usage of drones can be implemented.”

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“And from a technological aspect, there is so much more that we could learn and gain from this drone industry,” he said.

Amir Haziq (middle) said that his drone business has been on the rise since the CMCO. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Amir, who is also a drone racer, stresses the beneficial impact that drone racing could have if it were to be implemented in schools.

This is because drone racing has the potential to be made as an extracurricular activity in schools as it can help students to have a better understanding of electrical knowledge like soldering.

Apart from that, it can also help students to learn in a more practical way and not just by theory anymore.

Skyhigh Technology founder Muhammad Azinudin Aizal, who made most of his profits through drone events, supplies, trainings and services, said that the MCO had really impacted his business.

Before the MCO, Muhammad Azinudin has been spending most of his time on drone trainings and demonstrations. — Picture courtesy of Muhammad Azinudin Aizal

But it proved to be a blessing in disguise, he said as drones have proven to be an effective piece of equipment in times of crisis.

“For example, the Malaysian police force mobilised drones during the MCO to convey information to the public and then they are also using drones to spray disinfectant in certain areas.”

“Meanwhile in China, they are using drones with thermal imaging to scan people’s body temperature from their balconies.”

“That’s why right now, I’m trying to highlight the uses of drones in handling the pandemic and the pandemic is the best case scenario where drones are proven to be useful in time of crisis,” he said.

He said drones also had the potential to be the ideal natural disaster response equipment.

“Drones have a few systems that are suitable for emergency purposes, amongst them are thermal imaging, speaker and sprayer.”

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“Just by using these systems, the authorities can control every area with full efficiency apart from making their job easier and safer,” he said.

Azinudin also said that at the same time, this can also help uphold Malaysia’s image internationally in terms of how the nation was handling the pandemic.

Azinudin, who has been in the drone industry for five years now, said that he spent most of his time working from home and researching during the MCO.

Among his research is on the usage of drones in courier services.

It is statistically proven that online shopping has been on the rise during the pandemic and courier services are playing a huge role in it.

Skyhigh Technology is currently exploring the potential method in using drones as a courier.

“We are trying to implement a delivery service with minimal cost and time efficiency.”

“It can also offer a much cheaper price compared to nowadays delivery service companies,” Azinudin said.

Muhammad Azinudin (second from right) demonstrate how to pilot a drone at Puspek. — Picture courtesy of Muhammad Azinudin Aizal

Azinudin added that even though the idea seemed far-fetched, there was a possibility that using drones as a delivering method could be a reality once the nation implements the 5G network.

Previously, Skyhigh Technology was involved with organising multiple drone racing events in Kuala Pilah and Ipoh under the Kembara Digital Malaysia 2019 Program.

Besides that, they have also conducted drone training for Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority and for the Johor Bahru City Council. — Malay Mail

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