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InnoTech-Talks: Drones in Bhutan

The webinar discussed the possibilities for Bhutan to become a niche in the drone industry as a test bed for robotics testing.
  • Innotech
  • |
  • July 20, 2022

The Department of Innovation and Technology (InnoTech), DHI held another round of webinar in the InnoTech-Talks series on July 18th, 2022. The webinar circled the theme of Drones in Bhutan, wherein Mark Yong, Founder and CEO of Garuda Robotics discussed his personal journey through idea, innovation, and commercialization of drone projects.

Speaker Background

Mark’s background in technology and robotics spans over 20 years, having worked on ground and aerial robotics systems for applications ranging from urban search and rescue to commercial agriculture. Mark joined the faculty in the School of Computer Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. During his eight-year stint in academics, he received Nanyang Education Award for teaching excellence and creating the flagship Multidisciplinary Design Project Robotics Capstone.

Driven by his passion to solve real-world problems, Mark made the transition to entrepreneurship when he founded Garuda Robotics. He also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Singapore UAS Community; and Singapore Standards Council technical committees for UAS Manufacturers, and Building Inspections with UAS. He serves as guest judge for the National Robotics Competition and Singapore Amazing Flying Machines Competition.

Robotics and Commercial Drone Projects

The conversation-style webinar around Mark’s personal experience in academics and business was moderated by Jigdrel Singay, who is currently leading the Drone Applications in Power Utilities project under DHI InnoTech.

The webinar covered a wide range of topics, including project-based learning, co-development, taking calculated risks, liaising with regulatory authorities, and solving problems.

Kicking off the webinar, Mark highlighted skills needed in an innovation economy. He emphasized the importance of soft skills, especially the value of fostering a growth mindset, vis-à-vis hard technical skills. In an ever-evolving technological landscape, his belief is that individuals need to adapt their hard skills to the changing requirements. However, those without the right mindset will find it difficult to keep up. Therefore, in an innovation economy, individuals need to be willing to fail fast, learn from those failures, and iterate the product as well as the process.

Mark, further, went on to shed light on the importance for companies to build strong linkages with universities. Universities are on the forefront for establishing a foundation and developing talent pipelines to cater to the needs of the economy. To align skillset with industry requirements, taking a project-based approach to education, he iterated, is crucial for hard and soft skill development.

Drones in Bhutan

The webinar also covered the possibilities of establishing a drone industry in Bhutan. Mark and Jigdrel discussed Bhutan’s terrain and landscape as a competitive edge, leveraging which Bhutan has the potential to establish itself as a test bed for robotics, drones, air taxis, and even autonomous vehicles. Leveraging the findings of these robotics testing, they discussed how Bhutan can design and draft compliance and regulatory frameworks for commercial and personal drone usage that could be published for the industry’s benefit.

English (UK)