The AUVSI Report

Protester free and packed to the brim, opportunists and operators, manufacturers and marketeers brought with them an overwhelming sense of optimism to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Orlando, Florida and it is my pleasure to outline some of the more interesting concepts, systems, developments, and – mostly importantly – videos of dancing drones.

This past week, May 12 – 15th 2014, the AUVSI community hosted a variety of show-goers and exhibitors; reflecting the current state of affairs for the UAS, UAV, RPA, global population. I had the pleasure of participating for my 4th show as the representative for the University of Southern California’s Aviation Safety & Security Program. Much like the other show goers, we were excited to show off our newest product – a culmination of 4 years of research, the academically focused course and our first jaunt into offering UAS focused education – Safety Management Systems for Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

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Someone Watched Short Circuit 2, a Few Too Many Times

Northrop Grumman's Latest VTOL Entry

Northrop Grumman’s Latest VTOL Entry

Students of ours, as well as those with a continued knowledge of the industry, understand that UAS are on a trajectory unparalleled by any other developing economic technology market in the developing world and this is has led to a very diverse spectrum of show-goer to the AUVSI floor – investors, new manufacturers, experienced manned pilots, and university students of all levels could be seen grabbing the swag, dropping off resumes, and fingering business cards like a scene from American Psycho – but wait, you ain’t seen nothing; raised lettering, pale nimbus, white… impressive .  The exhibits were as varied as those attending and they ranged from the Start-up pavilion dedicated to those young companies looking to build a future with a single prototype, a small budget and a dream to the big-boys with full sized-aircraft such as Sikorsky’s newest Innovation the MATRIX Optionally Piloted Helo, Yamaha’s R-MAX Series or Boeing’s Scan Eagle and Infiltrator.

A Fixed Wing Agriculture Focused Sensor Platform Shown by University Students

A Fixed Wing Agriculture Focused Sensor Platform Shown by University Students

My personal favorites were the demonstrations, and The Parrot Drone manufacturer from across the pond. While the focus so often is on the Law Enforcement world, this show showcased the myriad humanitarian,agricultural, and transport focused applications emerging for UAS.

I am rarely impressed by the often overzealous and self promoting nature of the small UAS community; however this show offered a turning point in the community. Emboldened by the findings of Huerta V Pirker by the NTSB judge, I fully expected to be confronted by UAS operators declaring their operations fully legal and to witness lawless skullduggery within sales pitch after sales pitch as they spat upon the FAA’s attempt to regulate. Much to my surprise and delight, what I found instead were contemplative operators looking to serve the aviation community in a safe and legal manner. Time and time again I was asked for my expert opinion on the future of standards and regulations, and how to best ensure that an operator were providing a positive safety case, a method to achieve operation, in order to provide a service to their community. These were people who came to the largest UAS show in the country in order to learn from the FAA and to develop their understanding of the latest technologies in an evolving aviation environment.

Two Vehicles, One System

Two Vehicles, One System

Yamaha’s RMAX is the Company’s Flagship Farming UAS

In my capacity at the University of Southern California I am privileged to provide training to the most experienced safety professionals in the World, looking to continue their development and education in safety – manned or unmanned. To see this same interest and care paid to the world of small UAS as well as the more traditional large UAS was exhilarating, and yet again I find myself looking forward to next year’s AUVSI.

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