Scott Sanders, president of Ausley, shared lessons from the emerging commercial drone industry at the 2016 Patuxent Defense Forum entitled, “Privacy, Ethics and UAVs: Was George Orwell a Prophet?” The Forum was a collaboration between the Patuxent Partnership and the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and was hosted at the college.
Three panels of experts discussed issues of privacy, transparency and accountability; the commercial and personal uses of drones; and the ethics of war involving the use of drones.
Ausley is an emerging leader in the commercial unmanned aircraft market, offering unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based services for precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, security solutions and humanitarian programs around the world. Sanders shared some of the biggest technological and regulatory challenges the industry currently faces and emphasized the scale of the opportunity commercial efforts could offer businesses in the region. According to The Patuxent Partnership, about $2.3 billion will be invested in such commercial start-ups in the U.S. this year.
“This is a nascent market that has not yet been established,” said Sanders. “Some of the technologies for commercial use haven’t even been invented yet and the regulations are still in flux.”
Sanders likened the commercial UAS industry to the start of the automobile industry, reminding the audience that early laws required that automobiles be preceded by a person carrying a red flag to warn others of the approaching vehicle. “If we still had red flag laws today, we would not have Ford and General Motors,” said Sanders. He went on to predict that “in the future we are not going to have laws that say where you can fly a drone.”
To foster growth in this area, Sanders emphasized the importance of collaboration, announcing that Ausley is actively developing a business model for a commercial start-up. “We are pulling teams together, seeking collaboration, international contacts and customers,” he said.
He added that events like the Forum offer his company and others “a great opportunity to educate the public, dispel myths and collaborate with other defense companies as we leverage lessons learned from our government experience.”