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Insights from TRAM Summit: Leveraging new tech for accelerated drone deployment

In 2015 the drone industry was worth about $4 billion. By 2030, the drone industry is anticipated to be worth about $55 billion. With the rapid acceleration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the market, there can’t be traditional solutions to the ever-growing list of concerns. Answers must be found out of the box. At Tulsa Innovation Labs' TRAM Summit, attendees were thinking about these concerns and solutions and explored them further in panels throughout the summit.

The first session of the TRAM Summit, Zero to 100: Accelerating Drone Deployment by Leveraging New Technologies, was moderated by Bronwyn Morgan, CEO of Xeo Air and Airversity, and featured Don Berchoff of TruWeather Solutions, Kraettli Epperson of Vigilant Aerospace Systems, Lisa Peterson of Advanced Ultra-Reliable Aviation (AURA), and James Spencer of AGILE | ECOSYSTEMS, LLC. On this panel, industry experts spoke about the integration required for new technologies to work cohesively, the people necessary to create such technologies, and how to ensure a secure line for both the technological and societal aspects to accelerate commercial drone deployment.

Panelists spoke about how emerging technologies from differing companies in UAS development can move forward with potential integration incompatibilities of subscription-based services used to independently prevent cyber security risks for communication and weather signals proposed by Berchoff. Peterson had this to say: “To succeed in this industry, we must work together across all sectors.”

There was some initial concern that this proposed function of paying for individual services could lead to “subscription fatigue” by the consumer. To that, Berchoff  proposed the idea of creating “bundles'' for the consumer to purchase to avoid such fatigue. These bundles, though, would require the cooperation of multiple companies from across the board to collaborate and produce. The panelists agreed that the following are key facets for the future of compatible integration:

-- Programs will need to be purchased by the consumer to maintain the integrity of relayed information to the operator.
-- To mitigate the potential for product exhaustion from consumers, “bundles” should be created for all purchased programs.
-- These “bundles” require the cooperation of multiple companies across several sectors to ensure the technology is compatible with each other.

When the conversation shifted from technology to society, Spencer noted that, “Traditional IP is static, people are dynamic IP. People are generative.” Spencer greatly reinforced the fundamental understanding that despite surging technological advancements underway, the humans that created these systems are the greatest inventions the world has. No technology would exist without its inventor and their predecessors. As to where such innovators can be found, Epperson pointed out that, “Tulsa is fostering advancement in this [AAM] industry.” Tulsa is home to over 46,000 aerospace sector employees. With that in mind, it is important to remember:

-- People are the greatest IP ever produced.
-- Without inventors, there would be no technology to advance.

“‘This is how we’ve always done it,’ isn’t good enough…We have to use this innovative technology to explore the possibilities of tomorrow,” Berchoff stated regarding potential complacency amongst corporations in relation to the prospect of future collaborative ventures. The technological advancements will continue to progress regardless of the hesitation of corporations and their potential resistance will do nothing but prevent widespread cohesion amongst UTMs and operators. It is the responsibility of those creating the regulations to ensure the safety and security of both the operators and their operations are feasible and practically accomplished. A company’s reputation in industry is integral for establishing and maintaining relationships with other companies and partners. Therefore, an emphasis should be placed on:

-- Operating and safety systems are critical for regulatory compliance.
-- It is absolutely crucial to understand where your parts are coming from and knowing who is involved with their production.

To accomplish the necessary steps to progress in this field, experts from all sectors must come together and communicate their individual needs and then collaborate to find a path forward; much as was done in this panel. Advanced mobility technology focuses on integrating highly automated aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS) safely and efficiently. Experts are developing the systems to implement and catalyze the burgeoning drone industry in Tulsa, allowing for growth not only in the aerospace sector but economically and socially for the people who live in the area. As the industry grows, it is important to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries of the future.

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