Asia Pacific

Just Drones: marrying technologies, entertainment, and the future of UAVs

Lady Gaga recently performed a 15-minute death-defying SuperBowl halftime show that skyrocketed her music sales by 1000%. To most people, that’s impressive. But to some (like me), what’s equally impressive is the flock of “stars” which are drones with LED lights attached forming an impressive backdrop of moving stars and an American flag, as Gaga sings the patriotic opening tune “God Bless America”.

It was only moments after the performance that it was revealed that the drones spectacular was indeed pre-filmed before the actual halftime show, due to restrictions over the use of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles, or UAVs.

The use of drones has long sparked interests in various stakeholders. They have been used in warfare, filmmaking, delivery and even firefighting. Interest in the consumer usage of drones has skyrocketed over the past few years, and commercially drones are being explored for many industrial, agricultural and – most recently – entertainment purposes.

In Southeast Asia, drones have been moving away from military technologies to more industry verticals and applications. Asia is seeing a “proliferation of companies coming out thinking creatively and informatively about how drone technology can be developed,” according to a spokesman for SZ DJI Technology Co., world’s top consumer drone maker by revenue.

One industry application that drones can be very useful for in Southeast Asia is agriculture. Making up a big part of the economy in Southeast Asia, agriculture however is still mostly done manually due to the lack of capital investments into new technologies done. Farming is still mostly done in small family scale, and lack of awareness of new technologies further distance farmers from gaining the capability to transform traditional farming.

Drones can produce precise 3D maps for early soil analysis, plant seeds automatically reducing the amount of time and manpower needed, spraying more efficiently to reduce amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater, monitor crops over a large area at real time, provide weather-dependent irrigation and assess crop health remotely. All of these possibilities can be achieved from the comfort of a control centre and may even be done automatically, for example in the case of Cau Dat Farm in Da Lat, Vietnam, which has developed various IoT technologies for their own farms in the area to produce fresh, healthy and farm-to-table agricultural produce.

The usage of drones is still very contentious in the region. Many countries in the region are still working on imposing certain restrictions and regulations on how to use drones commercially and personally. Nevertheless, just like any other new technologies, under proper regulations and management, drones have the potential to amaze – on and off stage.

Let me know your thoughts. If you have any inquiry on next-generation technologies and their use in Southeast Asia, reach out at!

by Nguyen Dinh Viet Anh

Dinh Viet Anh Nguyen

Feb 10, 2017

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