Last week, AirMap CEO Ben Marcus and CISO Jared Ablon joined other experts from the drone industry at the annual UTM Convention in Syracuse, New York.
Marcus kicked off the first day of the convention with NASA’s Parimal “P.K.” Kopardekar and Tom Prevot, the FAA’s Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Jay Merkle, and Skyward’s Jonathan Evans to discuss how the public sector and private industry will partner to build UTM.
“We’ve never seen this pace of innovation from government before,” Ben shared with the audience. But, he noted, UTM will not be a “prescriptive, top-down service.”
The entire panel agreed that UAS shared service providers – including AirMap – will be deeply integrated into the infrastructure of UTM.
Merkle pointed to data as a clear opportunity for government to enable industry innovation. “We have information that is needed by operators and service providers,” he said. “We need to make that available.”
Marcus challenged the entire industry to take part in the development of UTM, including advancing technology the industry and regulators will need to exchange information and facilitate communication between airspace stakeholders.
“It takes all of us,” he said, “and not just sitting on panels. We can’t wait for standards groups to tell us what to do. We have to make this technology a reality for ourselves.”
Jonathan Evans agreed, citing the founding of the internet as a parallel to the development of the drone industry. “The industry will grow the UTM concept much like the commercial internet grew itself,” he told the audience.
That growth is already being realized, as evidenced by new figures shared by Jay. The FAA has received more than 22,500 remote pilot applications, and more than 10,000 prospective commercial operators have passed the Part 107 knowledge test.
With thousands of commercial operators and millions of drones on the horizon, the industry representatives on AirMap CISO Jared Ablon’s panel were focused on two things: safety and security. The two “go hand in hand,” Jared told the audience. “For drones the infrastructure is not roads, or bridges, or even airports. It’s software.”
Aerovironment’s Andrew Thurling posited that the key to earning public support for the drone industry is proving that drones can use the national airspace system safely and respectfully. “Airspace is a kind of public resource,” he said. The price of entry: accountability.
“Anonymity breeds bad behavior,” Andrew shared.
But how should the drone ecosystem identify bad actors? According to Jared, “first, we have to identify the good actors. If you identify the good actors, you narrow the field significantly.”
Jared theorized that drones should each have an identity comparable to the ID in your wallet. “Identification like getting a driver’s license. You can take your ID to the airport and the bar and it is trusted – the airport doesn’t have to call the DMV to verify.”
Jared will be continuing the conversation on drone safety, security, and identity tomorrow at Drone World Expo. If you’ll be in San Jose for the conference, don’t forget to stop by Room 1 from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM for Counter Drone Technology: Counteracting UAS for Safety’s Sake.