Interview: Mahmood Hussein, GDS

By on 20 June, 2022


WA-based Global Drone Solutions has grown rapidly to become a leading drone training organisation.

Global Drone Solutions, a new SSSI Sustaining Partner, has been around for only a little over five years and yet is already a vendor for tier one companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group, Newmont, Newcrest, Woodside, Chevron, Shell and Ausdrill, as well as many government entities.

We spoke with the company’s founder, Mahmood Hussein, to find out the secret of its success.


POS: How did the company get started?

Mahmood Hussein: I founded Global Drone Solutions (GDS) in January 2016, when the drone industry was in its infancy, particularly in Western Australia. My market research in 2015 showed that the mining industry was starting to use drones in its operations; so, if individuals wanted to join the mining industry, then having a drone pilot licence was going to be a distinct advantage. So I initially targeted this demographic, and, since establishing the drone pilot training academy in 2016, GDS has trained more than 3,000 pilots.

The drone industry has now well and truly taken off; however, the untapped potential in the industry is enormous. A 2020 report by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Government forecast that the drone industry will increase the GDP of the Australian economy by $636 million in 2025, $2.036 billion in 2030 and $3.066 billion in 2040. The value of the Australian drone industry will grow from $78 million in 2020 to $5.5 billion in 2030 and $14.5 billion in 2040.

POS: How are you keeping up with the industry’s evolution?

MH: GDS has broadened its range of training to include terrestrial and sub-sea remotely operated vehicles. In late 2021, we won a large WA Government tender to develop training material for LNG process operators. This was a big step for GDS; it is going to contribute to significant growth for the business as we broaden our training reach.

As we began work on the LNG training units, we realised that current training methods are outdated and can be vastly improved using technologies such as AI, augmented reality and virtual reality (VR). In response, we began work on developing a training metaverse, a unique 3-D virtual world, which students will enter using VR headsets. In the virtual world the trainee will be immersed in a digital twin of their future work environment, where they can safely interact with equipment and familiarise themselves before they get to site. The trainer will be able to guide them through any process and explain the right techniques for conducting work, isolations, hazards, dealing with simulated emergencies, and even pull components apart to explain how equipment works. To create the virtual training environment, we will capture data from the client’s physical plant, usually by drone, and develop a digital twin of it.

Mahmood Hussein, founder, Global Drone Solutions

POS: What’s next for GDS?

MH: GDS has been looking at new opportunities to position itself as a unique, innovative and disrupting technology provider and leader in the development and delivery of training materials. The energy industry, and specifically the LNG industry, is expanding at a rapid rate due to its decarbonising effects.

In other activities, I am a board member of Lord of the Trees, where I help to ensure compliant drone operations for the organisation’s reforestation projects in Western Australia and Saudi Arabia. The organisation has developed a mass tree-planting method that uses drones to mimic the way nature distributes seeds.

GDS also has a partnership with global humanitarian group WeRobotics, which uses technology to help tackle global issues such as inequality, social injustice and unsustainable development. GDS donates the use of its online training program. In the past 12 months, we have trained pilots in Africa, Latin America, the Indian Sub-Continent, Asia and the Pacific.

POS: To what do you attribute your company’s success?

MH: It’s really very simple — deliver more value than you promise and ensure the client has a friendly and professional experience from the first call, right through to graduation and beyond. My purpose is to help others find a career that gives them pleasure as well as an income, provide them with opportunities for growth and generally make a positive contribution to society.

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