Drone Life News -Autonomous Drones, Need to Revamp Laws, Skydio News,Drone Conference in Houston
com miss miriam mcnabb miriam. How are you doing today im doing great? How are you doing good? As always things are really uh really building here at drone? U very happy to do a lot more in person trainings its the fuel that feeds the fire, so very grateful for that excellent, excellent. Definitely well! For our first story, miriam Music – it seems like one legislative body – is calling for not necessarily drones, but all recreational aircraft to be quote unquote electronically. Conspicuous. Does this mean that theyre calling for all recreational aircraft to have some sort of adsb transponder? I mean whats? The point of this and whats the story here yeah. This is really interesting: its research actually so its not a legislative body, its a research group in the uk and theyre making recommendations uh to the uk government on how to unlock the potential for uh, the commercial drone industry. You know estimated at you know 40 billion pounds or something like that so um. Obviously, every country uh realizing that you can benefit of the commercial drone industry and what these researchers found is that there were a couple of things they felt were really critical to unlocking the potential one was to assign a minister of drones to kind of put somebody Clearly in charge of uh drone related legislation – and the second was a very interesting – was to for the government to pay for all recreational aircraft, and i assume they mean manned aircraft to be electronically conspicuous.
So this is kind of bridging the gap that causes a problem for many utm systems or utm frameworks. Where you know, drones really have to be the ones responsible for identifying anything. Thats in the sky. Theyve got to be able to find any of these recreational aircraft. Whether its a a lightweight, glider or a small plane or whatever, even though those aircraft are not necessarily required to carry adsb or to be electronically conspicuous, and what this research found is that it would be well worth the governments investment to just pay for making all Of those aircraft electronically conspicuous so they could be seen in an air traffic control system and that that uh is really critical to making the skies accessible to the commercial drone industry. So not something that i had read before in official research papers. I thought that was really interesting to bring up. It is certainly something that is discussed in the utm community, but not necessarily something that everyones aware of yeah very interesting uh. I know itd be useful for certain drone pilots when we can see aircraft coming close to us. You know on our tablets and whatnot, so i definitely see how that could be useful for sure so well bringing us to our next piece of news. It looks like some more conferences are getting underway, and this week it seems like energy is the vertical of focus when it comes to the drone world, so uh whats, going on this week, miriam Music.
So this week in houston, the energy drones and robotics show is back, live great, show very focused, of course, on the energy sector, a big growth sector for the drone industry. So a couple of drone life writers are there on the scene. Sending me notes, which is great uh, looks to me like kind of autonomy is the theme and since weve weve sort of talked about autonomy uh before well bring it up here. You know with percepto uh that they do autonomous drone in the box solutions, theyre working a lot overseas and here in the us, with agencies like florida, power and light, who have the appropriate waivers and so forth to enable fully autonomous drone inspections, especially theyre using them For sort of uh disaster, preparation and disaster response, of course, in florida, um during hurricane season, thats important and then skydio also presented their keynotes saying you know, autonomous uh inspection is really kind of the next step, uh for the energy industry. So what do you think? What do you think on sort of whats allowed currently versus whats? What drones are capable of doing? Well, you know you bring up a really important point and uh. You know kind of bridging the gap between last weeks, news show, and this weeks i got the article out regarding the fcc kind of coming down on dji, and i like how they noted that you know there werent, really domestic manufacturers that could compete with dji, and I even slipped in the little quote from brendan shulmans interview with drone dj, where he outright says there are other drone companies now im paraphrasing.
There are other drone companies that are advertising, uh and marketing, full autonomy and thats currently illegal, and you know, reading your article on skydio and whats going on in houston. You know mr dunn from skydio says that uh one customer contracted with skydio for inspection noted a 75 reduction in cost per bridge and a 92 reduction in training costs stating that manual drones simply dont scale. But you know continuing on with that analogy. Thats essentially saying that drivers do not need to get educated in how to drive, because they can rely on full self driving, which we know is not true. We also know that that is illegal as well, and so with skydio kind of coming out and saying we can autonomize everything and we can do everything its nice. That someone who has a lot of uh clout in the industry like brennan shulman, is finally coming out and saying like look: when are we going to talk about the fact that full autonomy is not legal? You know you might be saving money and not training people but whats the liability on the back end when you cant stop the drone from running into a childs head which has happened. So you know it. I i you know miriam. You know i have a kind of uh, a very uh uh um, powerful opinion on this, not powerful, but just a very kind of structured, solid opinion and uh. Until there is legislation and regulations regarding full autonomy, we still have to have a pilot on the sticks, able to avoid an emergency at any time, which does mean full control of the aircraft.
So you know a lot of these claims. You you really just got ta, be like okay, youre, not elon, elon does a better job at presenting this, and fsd is still a problem, and autonomous drones still are not legal, so it would be nice for the faa to come out and say something, but i Think that theyre not going to do that because its political suicide right now as uh, you know politics are definitely uh. You know theyre theyre, politics are increasing and so is the pressure on dji, as we saw from the fcc last week. So you know its its one of those things where, at the end of the day, pilots need to make the decision on their own, because, ultimately, pilots are responsible and you need to know what drones follow faa guidelines, because if you do get in a crash, your Insurance company is going to investigate and question you as a pilot to find out if you were following faa guidelines, so i just dont want to see any drone pilots getting caught holding the bag. Miriam im gon na play devils advocate because thats what we do here so so i think i mean i think, that the the customer that scottie was referencing was overseas um for one thing, so so in their in their defense. But i also think i also think that autonomy is kind of a really interesting technology and that theres definitely this halfway point that can happen right now and so um.
I have gotten in a lot of trouble for uh writing about my current fascination with um passenger drones and i call them passenger drones and then everybody yells at me because um they want to use something that that nobody outside of the industry would ever recognize um. But essentially, a lot of these designs that were seeing now come out as crude vehicles, with the autonomy built in until such time as full autonomy like youre over there. A thousand miles away and im sitting back in the office is a reality, and i think that until that happens, you know in the meantime, theres definitely a halfway point where you can actually be safer to use some of these autonomy functions because, as you know, you Are a skilled and experienced pilot? Not everybody is if youre trying to get close to under a bridge. You could easily make a mistake if youre trying to steer yourself right so im hopeful that what there really is is this kind of halfway point where people are theyre flying the drones. They are. You know staying within the confines of current regulations when they dont have waivers to do more than that, but that the ease of use has improved to a point where youre getting better data and it is safer flight, so im gon na still say: okay, like crude Systems until such time as the uncrewed is available – and you know who knows when that will be here in the u.
s – what i am seeing um, i guess i would call them edge – use cases um and it is overseas – is things where you have a really remote Area where youve got one of those mining sites, thats been closed for five years, but you still have to keep maintaining surveillance for ten years theres. Nobody, there theres theres nothing um for you to hit. If that drone crashes down its gon na crash down in the desert whatever, and so they are utilizing these fully autonomous yeah, you know miles away in the office on this drone system for surveillance. I think thats a great use case. It should be legal, its its you know, safer, more effective, more efficient and well get there for a much broader variety of use. Cases at some point, so im gon na take the middle road here, im a flaming moderate. I like it. I like it. I like it, and – and i agree with you that there is uh there is a balance in using essentially like a pilot, assist right in helping pilots with autonomy. But i i also agree with you that full autonomy is currently not legal, but how long will it take until we get to that uh point of regulation right, couldnt agree with you more uh. The issue, though, is you know how is skydio not leaving drone pilots hanging when theyre actively marketing and advertising full autonomy, and even the pilot assist and the autonomous functions on those aircraft? The pilot still is not ultimately in control, they, you know sure you can press a pause button, but that does not give you the controls to manipulate the control surfaces to avoid an emergency.
So you know for me, i just you know, im sure, skydio hates me at this point and i and i i honestly uh, i you know i i i dont like that uh. I would like to work with them frankly over various issues, because i think this is easily solvable, but that said, you know. I just think that so many drone pilots are going to be left holding the bag and that this issue should be addressed. But how many times miriam in the united states has the government? Actually you know caught up to technology, typically its technology, pushing the government to think about new ways of regulating things, new ways of ensuring a safe environment. You know, and so i understand that skydio is trying to push push push push the envelope, but at the same time we cant set up our audience our users, our pilots, our clients to fail weve, got to be honest with them and so thats thats kind of My point here and i do see a future of full autonomy. I definitely think uh that that future is not far away. That said, uh i would like to see you know more ability like i would love to see a future of full autonomy, but pilots are still able to fully take over control. They are able to avoid an emergency. They are able to have full uh full control, and so i agree with you that its definitely were in a middle point.
You know. I just think that uh marketing and hype should be honest and truthful, as so many of us get caught up in claims. Thats. All okay well im, not i i havent flown the uh, the the drones so im not equipped to comment on whether or not you can go uh in and take over at some point but um again ill say from a technology standpoint. Im gon na play devils advocate, i think, uh pushing the envelope of what can be done is always good, because the more people who want to do it, the faster the faster well get there so well see well see when we get more drones in the air. We will gather more data on this question. No, and i agree with you that weve got to push the envelope. I just also think that we should uh. Companies should be honest, thats all, but you know that does kind of really uh steamroll us right into the next piece of drone news Music. Last week we saw the fcc coming down on dji and asking for more restrictive measures about what funds can be used. Uh to purchase those drones, meanwhile, on the opposite, end of the spectrum, skydio is heralding their new cyber security expert miriam. What do you have so um? I actually thought this was interesting, because i do think that skydio has read the room and said: hey. You know our customers are concerned about cyber security and were going to meet that concern head on by hiring a a very experienced, actually great veteran of the industry, with a lot of skills that they are going to hire a head of security to meet.
Cyber security. Fears head on and you and i talked about this in pre – show and and i tend to be a little bit pollyanna. You know like really whos trying to hack the drone but um. I i think everybodys like a nice person until proven otherwise but uh. You know there is definitely concerning, and you know people need to think about what their use case is. You know i mean for somebody whos taking a picture of a sporting event or or uh. You know just a construction site or something inside or something like that. They need to think about. Is this really data that its very important to me to secure, certainly in the energy industry like we just talked about? That is a primary concern. You know if youre talking about a nuclear site um those customers really need to follow very specific protocols of data security, and so i think that um thats a real, a real concern that customers are going to have certainly um heavy industry and energy customers are going To have uh concerns about data and about cyber security, so i thought it was really interesting. Um that skydias just kind of meeting that head on and saying lets call it like it is, were hiring somebody to be head of cyber security and make sure that we are addressing potential and evolving vulnerabilities uh in our platforms, so yeah uh. Honestly, i think its. I think its great that they address that and its uh nice to see skydio taking that head on and uh.
It should uh showcase some, hopefully, when, if drones ever get to a point of doing bvlos and these advanced operations, its gon na be absolutely critical to have cyber security as a whole yeah. I think so, and i think um again its it sort of depends on the use case, but i do think that, as you know, ive been in the business since 2013. Youve been in the business since about then two probably before that right and you know we have seen use cases evolve. We have seen things change from people just wanting to take pictures and document things to really to creating 3d models to really bringing drone technology into their operational processes and, as that happens, and as those customers get bigger and as the value gets bigger. Certainly, issues about data security, insurance. All all of those sort of surrounding ecosystem elements become much more important. 100 100 uh yeah. I couldnt agree more miriam. I think its going to be a very uh bright future for uh for the industry, especially going about it. The right way in in crossing our teas and dotting our eyes, that is, for sure, Music well miriam. Thank you again for for joining me. I know by the time that this show gets published. Everyone will be talking about djis release of the new action 2 camera and then well, probably have another new show before the mavic 3 is released in the first week of november.
The real question is, is when is this stuff going to actually be available as its still impossible to get other drones from manufacturers uh abroad and domestically sounds good? I cant wait to hear were still friends right, even though im playing devils, oh yeah, 100, 100 uh. No, i know my, i know why i like doing shows with paul no well. You know like we have talked about uh off camera and in pre show just how important it is to look at both sides of an issue and how important it is to be able to have conflicting conversation and look at you know various perspectives that differ from Your perspective, i think its absolutely crucial and uh. I have i apologize for my mood kind of going down its just. You know i, i think of ntsb and what they just did with tesla right. They are now having a specialist in obstacle avoidance investigating, teslas, fsd and yeah. It makes you wonder: okay, well, if the government is starting to get really serious about autonomous driving. When do we get serious about really investigating autonomous aircraft, because its not just important for skydio right skydio is a little blip on the map, its important for people like boeing, hyundai, airbus right and were talking back to urban air mobility, like you talked about when you Write about uh the drone carriers or urban. I forget the name: passenger drones, passenger jones. Yes, thank you, its crucial and its about time that if we want the industry to continue to expand that, we need objective information.
That really looks at both sides of an issue and comes to an objective conclusion. This way consumers dont get left hanging and we build a safe and scalable future for all kinds of pilots, thats, thats thats. I think why my mood kind of came down is im like i just get frustrated because i think of the world as like a perfect world. Well figure it all out, itll be okay, but im like figure it out. When do you think the first autonomous car went coast to coast in this country, cross country fully autonomous car? Probably 2014? 1984.. Are you serious? Yes, harvard prototype? George orwell said in creepier 40 years. We have not gotten it together. Wow 40 years the technology has existed. So that brings up an important question: miriam and uh, and you know, however, you answer this. I dont have any expectation, just so were clear, but it really begs the question at what point should our government representatives have some sort of either a education thats beyond a political science degree which we all know in college, was the easiest one to get uh or To a research and investigative protocol to force any regulator, a mayor, a city council person, a congressman, a senator to have a research protocol to do before they implement bills or investigations, because i dont know absolutely absolutely so. You need there needs to be some rule about bringing in expertise in the same way that theres a rule about allowing public commentary and – and you know its a very catch 22 thing like weve.
Had people complain bitterly about having you know, large drone companies and large manufacturers on the deck, but my argument on that would be hey. Do you want no doctors on the fda like come on? You have to have people who actually understand how these things are produced and what the capabilities are and who are deep into the nitty gritty to help inform these regulations. And, unfortunately you know the dac really informs the faa. But we need somebody to inform congress as as well so yeah. No, i totally agreed on on all kinds of things on um. You know were working out very tricky, uh tricky issues with the roles and responsibilities of social media platforms and and technologies that people just didnt realize existed. You know that are are catching us, not off guard weve weve been there, but they theyre new, no 100, and you know you know in regards to your dad comment. Having that multivariate or multi nuclei expertise right where you dont just load the dac up with just manufacturers but youve got you know, actual drone pilots manufacturers, companies that are doing inspections at scale you know having all of those expertise is just – is crucial and critical. So i couldnt agree with you more and i mean i know: youve seen it in the drone industry, but how many times do we have to go to a legislator and educate them on what is possible with the drone the history whats been done, you know, and So i believe that having these protocols would really step up the intellectual integrity of our legislative body, thats, just uh thats, just kind of how i feel well and and do do a lot to sort of bridge some of the consistency gaps very well right.
You cant! If you, if you regulate something over here, it may affect something over there and you cant uh. You know you cant require opposing opposites so 100, 100. So, by the way i said, the political science degree, because i had a minor in poli sci, so im guilty myself, my son wants to go into politics im. Really! No! Thank you yeah. Why yeah seriously well a lot of complex issues here? Miriam and i really appreciate being able to do this. Show with you, because there is so many multi, very expertises to have to be able to adequately speak about these issues and then kind of tie. All the dots together to realize whats, really, you know lying below the surface. Where are we really headed? And so for that miriam very grateful for you and thank you again for another uh, very informative and uh on my side, opinion, fueled new shows always a pleasure. I hope we can get to get together for drinks sometime. That would be fun. You know, i still have your pog waiting in the shipping room ready to go out, so i need to send that but um but yeah. I agree. I agree. Thank you again. Miriam and thank you everyone for listening in. Let us know your comments, let us know what you think uh the drone industry is definitely evolving and there are a lot of moving parts in the regulatory uh body right now that will affect all of us, so it is important to stay on top of.