Q. You have had an interesting career working on AUVs and UAVs. Could you tell our readers a bit about your background?
My background Electrical Engineering with a focus in Oceanography. I graduated in 1989 and began working at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Victoria British Columbia with The Acoustical Oceangraphic Research Group designing sonar systems and remote and autonomous instrumentation. In 1995 I started designing instrumentation to integrate with Remotely Operated Vehicles and progressed to designing better telemetry and control systems and eventually designing entire new vehicles.
Q. Beyond the fact that AUVs are in the water and UAVs are in the air, are their major differences in terms of how people should think of both, especially in terms of operating autonomously as unmanned vehicles?
Using underwater vehicles commercially is a more mature activity than commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles but working in the air is much easier than working underwater.
Q. I know you will be speaking about Dronecode at the InterDrone conference, could you tell our readers a bit more about Dronecode?
Dronecode was formed in the fall of 2014 to manage the custodianship of the ArduPilot and PX4 Open Source Autopilot projects. We’re expanding to include other projects as well. Dronecode is a forum for collaboration between the projects, the users, and the companies creating and using the technology
Q. An open source approach to drone software and hardware may be what’s needed to really speed up the delivery of applications and custom solutions for unmanned vehicles. Do you have any companies on board with making use of your work at this point?
We have more than 200,000 systems in use around the world right now. Since we are Open Source it is difficult to know exactly who all the users are but we have between 700 and 1000 companies manufacturing vehicles based on this project. We can only speculate about the number of vehicles being used commercially.
Q. As the FAA works to integrate drones into the NAS there is likely to be security and privacy regulations beyond what is in place today. Do you envision drone platforms like DroneCode needing to add software/hardware support to meet these requirements?
The FAA does not regulate privacy. They regulate the airspace the ensure the safety of people using it. We put safety above everything else. We are highly motivated to create safe and reliable systems. In addition, yes, we have the ability to put systems in place to ensure compliance with local regulations.
Q. What should I have asked you about Dronecode that you would like our readers to know more about?
UAV applications and capabilities are advancing at a phenomenal rate and the cost of these systems is decreasing at an equally phenomenal rate largely because of the open source approach that the Dronecode projects have brought to this space in the last few years. The open source projects have vastly outpaced the development of their equivalent closed source systems and consequently we are seeing more and more companies and research institutions joining this collaborative effort. Our intention is for Dronecode to continue to grow that collaborative environment and advance the technology shared among the member companies. There are exciting things to come!