An underlying theme at this week’s Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, was the need for the industry to work together to guide public perceptions about drones and related technologies.
One of the advocates for this coordinated effort was Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager of the Drone Group for Intel Corporation.
In his keynote address, Nanduri included a number of examples of how the company’s systems approach is being applied across the drone ecosystem in areas ranging from gas terminal inspection to monitoring polar bears in a changing environment.
Looking toward a future ‘still in the process of being developed’, Nanduri identified the critical need to solve identified industry challenges, such as safety and public perception, with punctuation provided by one of the company’s Falcon 8+ drones hovering at the side of the conference room.
In terms of public perception he said, ‘It’s very important that people understand what the value of drone technology brings to them.’
He highlighted the fact that the recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma had led to drone companies coming together in recovery outreach.
‘It has actually brought accolades to the drone capabilities and the value drones bring. We, as a community, need to share those stories, and share that learning, so that people understand how drones are actually adding value in everyday use cases,’ he said.
Offering another example involving cooperation with the Menlo Fire District, Nanduri said that the company was flying in support of those personnel immediately following the recent ‘Tubbs Fire,’ one of several devastating wildfires in Northern California.
‘They put a thermal sensor on the drone and the first responders and the fire department were looking at the heat of the ash,’ he explained.
‘They wanted to send in a crew and were looking to see if it was safe for the crew to operate. They actually wanted to send their canine [teams] to look for specific things.’
He characterised it as ‘a very interesting use case where the drones really told them which areas were safe and which were not safe, as well as mapping all the information and processing it so that now they can preserve it and the immediate aftermath of everything that happened there is now digitised’.
‘There were multiple companies that helped participate in this effort, including us,’ he continued, ‘And this is something adding real value to them and simplifying their work.
‘Awareness is a key aspect and we will do our part. And we, as an industry, should do our part in sharing these stories,’ he concluded.