Patrik Elm and a drone in front of Kalmar Castle

Great interest in course on drones and their applications

They arrived from all over the world. Students mainly, but also a pilot, a forklift driver, and a software developer. The summer course on drones at Linnaeus University drew 17 participants and will now be offered as a regular 7.5 credit course in autumn 2020.

Perhaps diversity is the best word used to describe the course Drones and Its Applications. The 17 participants on the summer course came from China, the US, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Sweden. Half of the participants were women. The majority were students, but one was a pilot, one was a forklift driver, and one was a software developer.

“Most were just curious and wanted to learn more, but two of the participants had plans on using drones professionally. One within film and photography and the other within the nature experience industry”, says Patrik Elm, senior lecturer in computer science, who has developed the drone course together with his colleague Mexhid Ferati and the doctoral student Niraj Chaudhary.

“I’ve used drones privately for a couple of years and when visiting a partner university in California it came to my knowledge that they use drones within a number of different fields. That’s when I got the idea for this course”, says Patrik Elm.

From basic flying to 3D modelling and ethics
The course comprised 7.5 credits and was offered by the Department of Informatics at Linnaeus University Summer Academy this summer. A large part of the course elements were practical, like flying and handling. There were also theoretical classes with focus on ethics, legislation, and fields of application (film, surveillance, agriculture, entertainment, etc.) The course also contained lectures and laboratory experiments where the aim was for the students to learn 3D modelling using photographs taken by a drone.

“The final examination consisted of two different parts: to develop a 3D model of an art item outside Kalmar Castle, and to produce a 3–5 minute video where the student tells a story using drone material”, Patrik Elm continues.

New course autumn 2020
Our experiences from the course have resulted in the fact that we will now offer the course as a regular course starting autumn 2020. There are also plans to develop the course further and combine programming and drones by using a new, programmable drone model. The potential is great, not only in education but in research as well.

Every now and then, the university receives criticism for offering courses that are “unacademic”. Are you not afraid that this course may be considered a play course?

“When new subjects and courses are created, people easily become suspicious that pleasure is the field of subject’s only area of use. However, you can draw a parallel to gaming and game development which today is an important field for so much else, for instance simulation”, Patrik Elm continues.

“Drones are becoming more and more useful tools in society. The areas of use are diverse and it’s really only our imagination that limits in what ways we use drones. The technology in drones, like sensors and software, can be found also in, for instance, self-driving vehicles”, Patrik Elm concludes.