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.
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.
It seems that many Xponential attendees appreciated that the FAA is attempting to improve their relationships with the commercial drone industry but that there are still a laundry list of regulatory barriers in the U.S. that don’t exist to the same extent internationally.
All you had to do is wander around the expo hall to see that most of the commercial drone exhibitors in attendance were from Asia and Europe. There were relatively few U.S. based commercial drone companies there to showcase their products.
When you think about the technology that makes drones valuable to consumers and businesses, for the most part they have already been developed. Over the next decade the development focus will lean more towards flight safety so that the industry can overcome more regulatory barriers. Mostly likely these developments will come in the forms of ADS-B, Radar, UTM, and geofencing technologies amongst others.
Now it’s a matter of seeing beyond line of sight (BLOS) legalization take place on a domestic level. That’s going to be the first major catalyst for commercial drone industry growth in the U.S. that allows us to gain ground on international markets that have fewer regulatory restrictions.
Tell us a bit more about American Robotics and how the agricultural community stands to benefit from your technology?
The goal of American Robotics is to provide small drones that perform high-resolution, automatic daily imaging for any farmer with a large amount of land. These images will also be tracked geographically so that farmers can properly identify crops containing or at risk for pests or diseases that could result in short and long-term damages to their businesses. Having daily aerial footage of their crops will also be a nice benefit from an environmental standpoint since farmers will save money that they otherwise might have spent on pesticides.
Farmers will also appreciate that our drones will run autonomously over their land so there’s no need for them to become piloting experts in order to operate the technology.