AOPA President Mark Baker at last weekend’s Northwest Aviation Conference said, “We want these [drone] companies to be very successful,” in response to a question from Washington Pilots Association President Les Smith. Listen to Mark’s comments for yourself in the following video clip.
Personally, I couldn’t agree more. While the concerns many of us have about sharing airspace with “unmanned aerial systems” is real, I believe there is also a tremendous upside. This Ted Talk is but one example of sensor development that in this case, turns a quadcopter into an “athlete.”
A sensor designed to keep drones from bumping into each other, or a stationary physical object, will one day assist full scale aviators from running into each other or towers or mountains. Today we call that technology traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and synthetic vision. But both are pricey and installed in a small number of aircraft.
By working with the burgeoning drone industry, rather than against, perhaps we can scale up sensor technology to assist us. After all, it is nice to have a co-pilot looking for traffic with us? Now imagine one that can see a much wider field of view and doesn’t blink…