Be it a missing bushwalker, or in the case of flood, fire or other natural disasters there are times when drones could do amazing things to help scope out the scale of the issue or even deliver care packages.  Telstra CEO Andy Penn believes drones could even help find missing people – and I think he might be onto something.

Andy Penn told me that Telstra have been using drones this year quite extensively for things like checking of mobile towers saying “we already have twelve qualified drone pilots on the payroll at Telstra”, but it goes a whole lot further than that.


As Mr Penn points out, “In an Australian issue like floods, fire or cyclones,” “we can send a drone in for surveillance”.

But it’s what he said next that sparked my interest.  “We can also attach a mobile connectivity cell for it to provide cover where there wasn’t previously cover”.  Yep, he’s saying they could FLY a mobile tower over cut off areas to provide mobile coverage.

And what does that also do? “We can identify people who may be lost because their mobile device is sending a signal, we can pick that up”.

Imagine this – someone is out bushwalking, they’ve gone to far, they don’t return as expected.  Today, we send up helicopters in the air and police and emergency services along with volunteers walk through the bush looking for the person.

In the example given by Telstra CEO Andy Penn, a drone could fly with a mobile cell attached to it, and if a signal is connected to it – it could well narrow down the location of the missing person.

Absolutely brilliant.

Listen to my full interview with Andy Penn below: