Thursday, July 12, 2012

A View to the Future: Unmanned Things in the Sky

For your consideration, two very different perspectives on whatever you would like to call unmanned things in the sky: drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):

Item One: Last week, the New York Times Magazine ran an article on changes taking place within the U.S. Air Force (USAF) as the UAV community is becoming an increasingly bigger part of their everyday operations. Clearly, a paradigm shift is underway as documented by the following tidbits from the story:

  • Within a year, the majority of USAF flights will most likely be UAV operations,
  • Cars on U.S. roads are being used to hone UAV operator combat tracking techniques, and
  • Drone operations can mean an afternoon combat mission over Yemen, is followed by evening dinner with the wife and kids in the U.S.

To read the article, click the link below (don't miss out on the slide show capability at the start of the article):

Drone Zone (New York Times Magazine, July 6, 2012)

Item Two: In late May, Bob Nutch, GIS Coordinator for the State of North Dakota, blogged about his first trip to the UAS Action Summit held at Grand Forks, North Dakota, on May 22, 23, 2012.  Sponsored by the Red River Valley Research Corridor, the event was the sixth since inception and attracted over 350 military officials, industry experts, innovators, researchers, business leaders and students.  According to Bob's report, the North Dakota/Minnesota Red River Valley of the North is on its way to becoming the "Silicone Valley" for drones. Furthermore, given Bob's position in North Dakota state government, his drone neophyte perspective on the tsunami of military UAV technology headed toward the civilian sector is particularly refreshing and thought provoking.  Click the links below to read Bob's report or view the event presentations now available online:

From Battlefield to Farm Field (North Dakota GIS Hub, May 29, 2012)
Event Presentations (UAS Action Summit 2012, May 22, 23, 2012)

Comment: Just like mobile LiDAR is taking away a big piece of the traditional surveying business, standby for UAS's to do the same thing to the traditional "manned" aerial imagery business.  The world is changing before our eyes - if we don't adapt, we'll get left behind.

Lead photo credit:

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