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Ian has the TED X Factor



26 May 2016

A University of Sydney Master of Science student with an eye for business has won one of five TEDxSydney St George Bank Kick Start grants worth $25,000.

Ian Conway Lamb founded his start-up company, Iridium Dynamics, as a side project while studying for a Masters in quantum computing with Professor David Reilly in the School of Physics. Ian's passion for robotics led him to a concept for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for aerial imaging in the agricultural industry.

Ian Conway Lamb won one of five TEDxSydney St George Bank Kick Start grants worth $25,000 for his concept for an unmanned aerial vehicle for imaging in the agricultural industry.
Ian Conway Lamb won one of five TEDxSydney St George Bank Kick Start grants worth $25,000 for his concept for an unmanned aerial vehicle for imaging in the agricultural industry.

"I worked on this aircraft as a hobby, and realised that it has capabilities beyond anything which is currently available, so started thinking about its commercial viability," says Ian.

"A number of industries came up, but I decided to focus on agriculture as it is a very large industry in Australia, and Australian farmers are able to adopt new technologies as soon as they're demonstrated to show financial benefit."

Iridium Dynamics is building an affordable aerial imaging device that can be operated by farmers with no previous flying experience across large areas of agricultural landmass. The device will help to save money through automation of infrastructure inspection and early identification of pests or disease.

The aircraft has a unique way of flying, converting between two flight modes - one like an aeroplane, the other like a helicopter. The two flight modes are both very efficient, in contrast to existing aircraft that waste energy when hovering. Iridium Dynamics will take advantage of this increased efficiency and provide farmers with UAVs that can fly a much greater distance and therefore cover a much larger area, in a single flight.

Ian was working on his Masters project - building a computer that operates at nearly 300 degrees below room temperature - when an advert for the competition popped up on the lab's Spotify account.

"It's great to have the validation that the wider community agrees with me on the relevance and importance of the product, and recognises that these sorts of innovations deserve the investment in time and money required to bring them to market," says Ian.

The prize money will cover the costs of the machining equipment, materials and moulds required to develop a prototype and hence accelerate the development process.

"Working in Iridium Dynamics may well become my full-time job in the future. I expect to develop the prototype for a few months, and then seek further investment to build a skilled engineering team to take the product to market."

In the meantime, Ian is completing his Master of Science project in the Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory. The team are working on ways to control the super-cooled devices that are necessary components for quantum computers.

"Analogous to the 'bits' in classical computers, quantum bits or 'qubits' will be the building blocks of quantum computers, which will be able to solve problems which are impossible on classical computers. The leading qubit architectures operate at extremely low temperatures," explains Ian.

Watch Ian talk about his innovation:


Contact: Katynna Parry

Phone: (02) 9351 6997

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