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Reese Mozer Discusses AUVSI Xponential & the Future of Agricultural Drones on Monday, June 13th at USI 2016

Monday, June 13th  Reese Mozer will be speaking at the 2016 USI Conference in Washington DC at Georgetown University. Panel: Flying High In The Fast Lane – Analyzing The Market For Unmanned Systems

Reese Mozer
CEO, American Robotics


As a student at the University of Southern California, Reese Mozer became intrigued by the potential use cases for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the agricultural community. After leading the USC Aerial Robotics team at the AUVSI Aerial Robotics Competition in 2013, Reese became President of USC Aerial Robotics and was responsible for leading a team of over 30 students in the design, manufacturing, and testing of an autonomous quadcopter.

Since graduating with his Master’s in Robotic Systems Development from Carnegie Mellon University, Reece has turned his full attention to the launch of his new startup American Robotics. Unmanned Systems Institute caught up with Reece to discuss his recent trip to AUVSI Xponential and the impact of drones on the future of the agriculture industry.

First of all, welcome back from AUVSI Xponential. We had some really interesting feedback from another entrepreneur in the unmanned systems industry, Lily Bengfort from UAS Safeflight, in last week’s interview and I was curious to find out what were you most important takeaways from Xponential?

I think my most important takeaway from Xponential was that there seems to be a culture clash going on right now between the tech side of the industry that is trying to speed up the process of getting commercial drones into the national airspace and the government agencies that are in charge of the regulatory process. The FAA acknowledged that innovation never happens at the speed of government and that they want to have better communication with commercial enterprises in the industry so that they can share their concerns with policy makers.

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Interview with Lily Bengfort on the UAS Growth Sectors and Applications

Wednesday, June 14th  Lily Bengfort will be speaking at the 2016 USI Conference in Washington DC at Georgetown University. Panel: Making Sense of the Future – How Sensors Define the Next Generation of Unmanned Systems

Lily Bengfort 
CEO, UAS Safelight

A longtime entrepreneur with a passion for emerging technologies, Lily Bengfort was voted Maryland’s Small Business Person of the Year in 2010 for her role as CEO of CarGen, a company specializing in wireless communications for government and commercial clients working in areas with constrained bandwidth access.

Intrigued by the possibilities of the commercial drone space, she founded UAS SafeFlight last year to create safe, effective beyond line of sight technologies for the use of aerial robotics in commercial UAS operations. We checked in with Lily after her visit to AUVSI’s Xponential conference in New Orleans to get her thoughts on attending one of the world’s largest events dedicated to the UAS industry.


What was your most important key takeaway from the AUVSI Xponential conference?

I found it encouraging that the FAA is creating a new Drone Advisory Council (DAC) to provide a forum for government officials and private sector decision makers in the UAS space to share their vision for the safe introduction of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS).

With that being said, there were many people from the private sector that voiced displeasure with the federal government for not moving quickly enough to loosen restrictions on commercial drones in the NAS.

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Interview with Mike Chumer on the Future of UAS Use for Emergency Response Scenarios

Wednesday, June 15th  Mike Chumer will be speaking at the 2016 USI Conference in Washington DC at Carnegie Library at MT. Vernon Square. Panel: Making Sense of the Future – How Sensors Define the Next Generation of Unmanned Systems

Mike Chumer
Director of UAS Research , New Jersey Innovation Institute

As the Director of UAS Research at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, Mike Chumer works with leading unmanned systems professionals and researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to develop innovative solutions for UAS use during emergency situations such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

He sat down with Unmanned Systems Institute to discuss the impact of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy on his research and shared his thoughts on the challenges of bringing together private and public sector stakeholders to work together on UAS implementation for major emergencies.

Your research into the use of UAS for emergency management was influenced by the State of New Jersey suffering over $35 billion in damages and 346,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. What types of UAS deployment initiatives are most important for state and federal officials to consider when they are preparing to respond to a natural disaster?
A lot of people don’t realize that my research actually started well before Hurricane Sandy. It really started after the 9/11 attacks when many of us witnessed the World Trade Center being destroyed by a terrorist event. I began research that investigated collaborative technologies which can be used during responses to catastrophic events. One such technology emerged, a highly disruptive one called Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Our goal became one of reducing decision making cycle times during emergencies. The sensing capability of UAS especially video feeds from a camera and real time mapping were factors in making speedier decision during fast moving response activities.
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An Interview with Robert Katz on Unmanned Systems and Cyberattacks

Robert Katz
Disaster and Terrorism Advisor, FEMA
Business Development and Capture Mentor by day, firefighter-paramedic by night. As an innovative thought leader, Robert has proudly conceived, captured, proposed, and executed countless rewarding initiatives to serve both his community, and his country. These encompassed complex C4ISR and GEOINT architectures for MIT, Johns Hopkins, NIST, Navy, Army, Air Force, NASA, DHS, DoT, DoD, State, Treasury, USAID, FEMA, CIA. Before creating his global non-profit, Robert served 10 years as a Principal BD executive for a number of major corporations, including Lockheed Martin, creating completely new Homeland Security & Defense markets from scratch in the US, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and throughout Europe. Between BD, proposal, and capture engagements for his wonderful clients, Robert sneaks in valuable time to help construct designer dresses with his daughter, as well as coordinate global counter-terrorism and disaster responses with his son.

As someone who has worked in the cybersecurity space for most of your career, what are the most critical challenges that the auto industry has to overcome in order to convince the general public that autonomous vehicles can be made secure from cyber attacks before they begin to enter the commercial auto market?

This reassurance to counter feelings of cyber-insecurity requires the unified efforts of solid communicators across the full spectrum of stakeholder domains – not just engineers, not just manufacturers, but urban planners, public leaders, elected officials, regulatory bodies, and community advocates, as well. They each in a different way understand best the basic emotions that motivate the public. Skeptical or fearful “passengers” may be relieved to know that most of us regular now experience travel in autonomous “vehicles.” In fact, modern commercial airliners are almost entirely self-controlled during the majority of a typical flight – while take-offs and landings are still usually performed manually by a pilot…at least for now. Imagine – that’s for a vehicle flying tens of thousands of feet above the ground at a several hundred miles an hour. So for down-to-Earth public acceptance of autonomous automobiles, this is mainly an issue of introducing the new technology paradigm gradually, in increments, to overcome natural (and understandably healthy) fear and anxiety.

On the public sector side of cybersecurity in the unmanned systems industry, are there any particular technological innovations that you believe will enable government and military agencies to protect from the possibility of data hacks and breaches against UAV/UAS that are conducting operations concerning national security?

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An Interview with General Poss on UAS

Maj. Gen. James O. Poss
Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C
General Poss received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Southern Mississippi. He served in Desert Storm with the U.S. VII Corps RC-12 Guardrail Battalion in Saudi Arabia, and was Director of Intelligence for Central Command Air Forces deployed to Southwest Asia at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. The general commanded the 488th Intelligence Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, flying RC-135s in combat during the Kosovo Air War. He has also commanded the 609th Air Intelligence Group at Shaw AFB, S.C., and 70th Intelligence Wing at Fort George G. Meade, Md. Read more.

Why was ASSURE founded and how do the research institutions that make up ASSURE contribute to the long term mission of the organization? 
ASSURE is an FAA Center of Excellence (COE).  FAA COE’s are part of a Congressionally-mandated program designed to provide the FAA with academic support for aviation related research.  ASSURE exists to provide the FAA the research they need to write Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) rules and polices.  ASSURE has been operational since last September, but has been a team for three years.  We have 23 universities in ASSURE and over 100 corporate members.  We picked universities with the most practical experience with applied UAS research.  As result, we sit on 16 different aviation rule making committees, are core to three FAA UAS test sites and only the DoD flies more UAS hours than ASSURE!

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Energy, Agriculture and More: Applications and What’s Working Today
David Bird
Journal of Unmanned Vehicles Systems
Jeff Sloan
National UAS Project Office Manager
United States Geological Survey
Victor Ingurgio
Research Psychologist
United States Army Research Institute
Robert Blair
Idaho Grain Producers Association
Russ Metzler
Director UAS Services
Asymmetric Technologies



The integration of unmanned aerial systems into the airspace can create 12,000 California jobs in its first three years. UAS testers are actively experimenting with UAS to harness wind and solar energy off the coast of California, which could produce a major boost to the renewable energy market.

Another major factor in this job growth is the potential for UAS in agriculture. Crop monitoring can change how farmers’ plan their fields, when they plant for the season, and determine what harvesting methods are most effective. Panelists will showcase how UAS technology has been tested in the United States and how it can drastically alter how we harvest food and energy.


 Energy, Agriculture and More_655x225

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Speaker Spotlight: Susan Shaheen

Shaheen-headshotSusan Shaheen is a co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She was the first Honda Distinguished Scholar in Transportation at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis from 2000 to 2012. She served as the Policy and Behavioral Research Program Leader at California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways from 2003 to 2007, and as a special assistant to the Director’s Office of the California Department of Transportation from 2001 to 2004.


USI: Apart from your teaching, what projects are you working on at the moment?

We have several research studies ongoing at Innovative Mobility Research at the University of California, Berkeley. For instance, we are working with some carsharing operators to investigate new innovations, such as using electric vehicles in their fleets, viability and improvements to one-way carsharing operations, and peer-to-peer vehicle sharing. We are continuing to monitor real-time ridesharing and ridesourcing (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Sidecar) developments and are hoping to conduct more research on the social and environmental impacts to urban transportation of all shared-use mobility services (e.g., bikesharing, carsharing, shuttle services, ridesharing, ridesourcing, shared delivery services, etc.).  

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Getting Schooled on UAS

Every semester, a new university is announcing its new unmanned vehicle program

June is the time when high school seniors walk across the stage in their cap and gown to receive their diploma, ready to move onto bigger and better things. For many this means college, which in turn means deciding a major and an eventual career path. Those who are undecided may want to consider what is already a lucrative option – unmanned aviation. The number of UAS programs offered by universities in constantly growing, with Indiana State University being the newest to join the fold.

Jumping on the UAS bandwagon now can lead to short and long term financial benefits. UAS operators and engineers, entry-level or experienced, are in very high demand and big companies are willing to pay very well. If you’re looking to pay off those student loans quickly, a UAS degree can be a big help.

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Speaker Spotlight: David Weekly

weekly-picDavid Weekly

David Weekly will be speaking on the “UAS Investment Opportunities & Growth” panel at USI 2015, December 14-16, 2015. For more information on the event, please see our agenda or register to attend.


USI: Why were you inspired to begin droneVC?

I saw that the non-military drone industry overall was rather in its infancy, with a surprisingly small group of technologists pioneering the fundamentals for a technology that could end up becoming a multi-hundred billion dollar opportunity to change how we transport light matter and perform sensing. While some folks had made investments in drone companies, it didn’t seem like anyone else had specialized in doing a drone fund. I was also interested to try out AngelList’s syndicate platform with its low time and capital overhead. If I was to do this part time, I’d need something that required very little backoffice overhead – starting a full traditional fund requires managing several Delaware corporations, sending out K-1s annual to partners, etc. AngelList takes care of everything for me. Investors also don’t pay a management fee to me. In a traditional fund, they’d pay somewhere between 1% to 2% of the fund annually to managing partners. In this model, substantially all of their capital goes to the company and is put to work immediately.

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Where’s Our Center of Excellence?

Update: On May 13, 2015 the FAA selected Mississippi State’s proposal and established it as the head of the UAS Center of Excellence. Additional details can be found on the FAA’s press release.

It’s May – How much longer do we have to wait?

Last August, the Federal Aviation Administration issued their final solicitation for Center of Excellence (COE) requests. The deadline for submissions was September 15, 2014 and it is estimated that nearly every state in the nation applied to host the UAS COE site.

It has now been almost eight months and there has been no announcement of a “winner”, or even finalists.

To be fair to the FAA, some of these proposals are likely very lengthy. According to the solicitation, the “Proposal” portion of the submission has a 60-page limit. It’s possible many pitches reached this limit. Other sections such as “Certifications and Declarations” have no page limit.

The FAA took 10 months to decide on its six UAS test sites, which received only 25 proposals. It is assumed the COE received more than 25 requests, as this distinction would greatly enhance the UAS-related industry in that area.

But if the FAA is prioritizing the establishment of UAS regulations, awarding this COE should be a top priority. The NPRM issued a few months ago bought the FAA some time, but it also showed how far the FAA is from making concrete rulings. By establishing a COE it can pass on some of the testing and regulation creation to the site.

The recent influx of 333 exemptions granted has also put the FAA in a better light, but the matter still stands that these companies are focusing on UAS as it applies to their business before focusing on UAS as it applies to the nation.

While we focus on the growing trend of UAS, we must also remember that the FAA deals with more than just unmanned aircraft issues. It has somewhat of a justification for the delay in a COE announcement, but this immense amount of work to be done also shows why having a COE is so important to the administration.

Being awarded a COE would be a major coup for any state, and the FAA needs to act sooner rather than later instead of teasing the applicants. The faster it moves on this issue, the quicker other UAS-initiatives can pick up.


To keep up with FAA news regarding the COE, keep an eye out for a press release on their announcements page.


Gavin Holdgreiwe | Unmanned Systems Institute

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