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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AIR IMPLEMENTATION 54  December 2018/January 2019 unmanned systems inside DEVELOPING AN IN-HOUSE PROGRAM Most of the companies Speicher works with don't have an aviation unit or any idea how to start an in-house UAS program. Often, one employee who has an interest in drones is tasked with developing the program without any real direction. It can become a frustrating process, but consultants and industry experts can offer guidance. When Stepler sits down with customers who want to develop in-house programs, he asks them what problems they're trying to solve, who their customers are, how they plan to use the data collected and what metric they plan to use to measure success. From there, they identify which departments should be involved, map out workf lows and determine where drones can fit into existing processes. The main goal is to put together a plan that enables the company to add drones to their business model both safely and efficiently. Before the program can take off, companies must put standard safety processes and proce- Photo courtesy of Measure. dures in place as well as develop a customized air operations manual, Stepler said. Standard oper- ating procedures (SOPs) will help ensure every- one is trained properly on how to safely fly UAS. The legal and management team should be involved in developing the SOP manual, which will include specifics, such as max wind speed, that make it clear when pilots can and cannot f ly, Speicher said. Developing standards also will help ensure there aren't any hiccups if the employee in charge of the drone program leaves the com- pany, Speicher said. "We teach our clients how to set policies for their pilots so they can scale and so they un- derstand the regulations," she said. "It's also important to have a handbook. A manager will leave the company and then the whole program crashes because that one person didn't teach any- one what he was doing. The whole thing stalls out until they figure out who is taking over, then that person basically has to start from scratch." Once policies are in place, it's time to deter- mine the type of system to invest in as well as the sensors needed to carry out the missions. Even companies keeping the program in-house should establish relationships with vendors for equip- ment and services, including maintenance and repair. Data engineering services that can turn information collected via drones into valuable assets and third party trainers also can be useful. Insurance is another issue companies must consider when developing a drone program, Hine said. Most policies exclude UAS and avia- tion operations, so companies need to look into obtaining UAS specific insurance coverage be- fore deploying drones in or near their facilities. "Typically, you have to get a separate aviation insurance policy, not just your typical liability insurance, so that opens up a new can of worms that gets the legal team involved," Speicher said. "That slows things down. A lot of our clients don't realize how much the legal team will question and want to be involved. That's why it's best to get everyone in the same room from the begin- " What you're looking for is a vendor who doesn't just deliver the data product, but who can do so in such a way that doesn't introduce unnecessary risk." " Jesse Stepler, chief strategy officer, Measure MEASURE'S GROUND CONTROL SOFTWARE To help clients develop drone programs, Measure created Ground Control, a software as a service platform. "Ground control is an end-to-end solution for managing the value creation process with drones," Measure Chief Strategy Officer Jesse Stepler said. "It includes everything from requesting service to airspace access to flight planning to data management to integration into existing business processes and systems." Measure's drone pilot crew preparing for a utility line inspection in the Dakotas.

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