Meet the World of Drone Congress' 19-year-old presenter

30 Aug 2017

Kate Zambelli is probably one of the most impressive 19-year-olds you’ll meet. Not only did she win the Bradfield Scholarship in 2016, but this year she’ll be one of the youngest presenters at the World of Drones Congress (WoDC) in Brisbane.

“I am looking forward to seeing what amazing developments have taken place with drones around the world… I will be the youngest presenter there, and there will be some amazing people from all over the world, so it will be a very humbling experience,” Kate said.

Here at Lendlease, we were first introduced to Kate in 2016 when she presented the Transport Orientated Development (TOD) as part of her submission for the Lendlease Bradfield Urban Vision Scholarship*. TODs will incorporate autonomous drone stations, vertical farms, affordable housing, commercial space and solar windows – all in one building – in the suburbs we live in today. 

The idea addresses three key factors in transforming Sydney into a first-tier city: liveability, productivity and sustainability.

Inspired by the Ehang 184 (an autonomous drone), currently being tested in Dubai, Kate said, “My concept involves having pickup stops in the suburbs for people to catch the drones to work – just like a bus stop. These are small and fully contained to protect the public when the drones are landing and taking off. The TOD drone landing stations could be adapted to any existing building, or built as new TODs.

“The Ehang 184 passenger drone can travel at speeds up to 100km/hour, so it would take less than 15 minutes to fly from Wynyard to Homebush – with no traffic congestion problems to worry about!”

The TODs will also reduce congestion on ‘surface’ transport systems – which are the buses, trains and cars we use every day, by bringing together residential, retail and commercial aspects of society. 
Kate’s concept tackles one of today’s hot topics – housing affordability. By implementing drone landing stations on one side of a 40-storey residential building and lower level residential apartments on the other side, Kate believes we can take steps toward more affordable, liveable cities. 

“The lower residential levels of the TOD buildings would be affordable to lower income families. They would then be based next to their workplace or at this key transport hub at the TOD, and this would save them a lot of travel time and travel expenses going to and from work,” Kate said.

Kate has further developed the TODs, with a specific focus on how the drone stations will operate. “A Sydney-sider would be able to order the drone on a smartphone, and the program will be able to tell them which level and station their drone will be located within a TOD and at what time – making it a very efficient form of transport whereby people won’t have to wait in queues for their ride home or to work,” she said.

While TODs may be a while away, there’s a good chance drones will be seen in Australia sooner rather than later: “The Ehang autonomous drones are being trialled in Dubai now, and expected to start trials in China next year. Then they have trials planned in parts of the United States. So hopefully it will only be a few more years before we see them in Australia,” Kate said.

Kate currently works in Lendlease’s DesignMake team and recently visited our Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) factory in Eastern Creek. 

“[Lendlease] are really creating some sustainable and innovative projects and this has really changed my view on how effective sustainable materials can be used now and the in future.”

*The Lendlease Bradfield Urban Vision scholarship (as part of the Bradfield partnership) supports undergraduate students who are studying the disciplines of urban development, urban planning and design, project finance, project and facilities management, and engineering at the University of Sydney.