IT Gulf Coast Opens 2016 Lunch and Learn Series
IT Gulf Coast held its first Lunch & Learn of 2016, giving the forty attendees a better understanding of the world of commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS’s), more commonly known as drones.
Alan Gray and Chris Tonn, owners of Pelican Drones, gave an engaging presentation on the application, restrictions and potential for UAS’s in supporting the ever-changing business environment. Because their use by the public is relatively new a lot of mystery still surrounds the issue. Alan, a certified community planner, and Chris, an entrepreneur and drone enthusiast, started their venture in January 2015. At that time, Pelican Drones was the only Federal Aviation Administration certified commercial use drone providers from New Orleans to Tallahassee. Since then, the number of drone service providers has exploded over 25 in the Pensacola region alone.
Training and a respect for the rules is foundational to running a UAS-based business. Early on, Chris went through rigorous instruction similar to pilot training. Adhering to the “rules of the road” for flying were paramount: Stay below 400 feet, do not fly at night, no flying over people and no flying through airport control zones.
Although never an issue with their company, the growing popularity of drone technology and several high profile near misses with commercial aircraft brought about a move late last year by the FAA to register all drones sold. Chris and Alan pointed out that the industry had already been moving to develop better firmware that would limit the chance for airborne encounters by incorporating, amongst other things, restricted airspace programming.
Used properly, drones have opened a new world of visual imagery and commercial application. In one example, Alan showed an 18 acre construction site. High resolution cameras allows the client to see detailed tractor treads in the dirt. What’s more, using digital elevation modeling, clients can analyze the slope of a property or the quantity of landfill brought on site.
“By identifying dimensions of a mound and applying simple volumetric calculations, the client can determine if, for example, the 410 trucks of fill were deposited on site or if it was 205,” noted Alan Gray. “There is also the ability to overview the work site progress on a regular basis defined by the client.”
By far, the most interesting aspect of drone services is the ability to provide more visually stimulating video for production and advertising. An excellent example shows the stunning beauty of Pensacola Beach, a production that has been viewed over half a million times and shared by over 7,000 Pensacolians.
Both owners pointed to a future that is wide open. “Companies are experimenting with delivering products to the home using barcode technology. In Germany, there is a move underway to ship emergency medical supplies, such as blood, using drones. Their use avoids the problems of being stuck in ground traffic when moments count.” Other applications are being considered every day.
Although the weather did not cooperate for a short demonstration, the presentation was a rousing success to the audience. Special thanks to Southern Light for its generous donation in covering the cost of lunch for the attendees and the Argo Athletic Club for use of their facilities.