Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. 53 December 2018/January 2019  unmanned systems inside WHAT TO CONSIDER There's certainly a lot to think about when de- termining which option is most advantageous to a company's bottom line, said Abby Speicher, CEO and co-founder of DARTdrones, a drone training and consulting company. For example, are there plans to scale the program to mul- tiple pilots, or will one pilot f lying a few times a month suffice? What hardware and software is necessary? How will the data be stored and processed? How difficult will the missions be? "Consider the pilot skills required. The lower the skill requirement, the better it is to in-source," said Jesse Stepler, chief strategy officer for Measure, a company that provides drone services, drone management software, training and consulting. "Do you have people on staff who are capable of creating data products with aerial imagery and of planning out the capture of images for data prod- uct creation? If you have those folks in-house, the more likely you are to in-source your program. We also find the more expensive the hardware is, the more likely customers are to outsource." Risk tolerance also plays a role in the decision, Stepler said. When f lights must be performed in close proximity to people, in hazardous envi- ronments or close to sensitive infrastructure, it's usually better to use experienced drone service providers. Outsourcing also can be more attrac- tive if the drone work is predictable. A company that needs to perform certain inspections once a month, for example, is probably more likely to outsource than first responders who need fast access to drones during emergencies. Companies that don't already have skilled pilots on their payroll will spend a lot of time training employees how to f ly drones and pro- cess data if they decide to keep their program in-house, Hine said. Most would rather not do this, especially in verticals like the utility in- dustry. The linemen who would be deploying the drones are already highly trained, mak- ing it difficult to expect them to learn another skill. Hiring licensed drone pilots is also an op- tion, but most companies would prefer to add the efficiencies drones offer to their operations without bringing more people on board. These factors can make outsourcing an attractive op- tion, especially for larger companies with as- sets that can benefit from drone inspections in multiple locations. There isn't one right answer, Stepler said, which is why many of his customers use a mix of both in-house pilots and service providers. "Most companies are a hybrid," Stepler said. "They have a number of trained pilots in-house and have a small list of drone service providers they work with depending on geographic avail- ability, the complexity of the operation and the level of demand. Your pilot might be occupied so you need a local drone pilot to cover the gap, for example." " " Abby Speicher, CEO and Co-Founder, DARTdrones Sourcing continued from P. 49 There's a process to getting a program set up. A lot of clients only have five hours a week to commit to the drone program and just haven't thought it through. This is a whole different department in the company that needs to have people dedicated to it." STAY UP-TO-DATE Drone technology continues to change at a rapid pace, meaning companies will need to adjust their in-house drone programs accordingly, said Abby Speicher, CEO and co-founder of DARTdrones. Pilots should be continuously trained and team members informed on the latest regulatory developments.

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