My friends, if you didn’t pick up on it by now you should know that I’m completely drone obsessed. I haven’t met many people who aren’t, actually. On an obvious level I love how fast they fly, the photos and videos they capture, and the fun applications for the future.
On a completely different level I’m fascinated by the emergence of drone technology. They’re one of the rare technologies that, regardless of intended use, still fall under the mandate of government regulations.
It’s difficult because a drone isn’t restricted to two dimensions like a car is. Rather, they can go pretty much anywhere: you don’t need me to tell you the potential issues this could cause if regulated improperly.
However, there are plenty of people out there who think the FAA is regulating drones in America improperly. If I asked you who these people were though, my guess is you’d have a hard time coming up with any names.
It’s ok, I wouldn’t have been able to point out who’s influencing a lot of the policy until recently. I came across a Fortune Magazine article written by Matt McCue, and he highlighted some of the very people I’m talking about.
Specifically, his findings show that some of the biggest movers and shakers in the drone industry are strong females in tech. It’s great because I think it shows efforts to get females more involved in tech have been paying off, but it’s doubly cool because these women are kicking major butt.
Here are four women that, as McCue says, are shaping the future of the drone industry:
Helen Greiner, CEO and founder of CyPhy Works:
You may know Greiner as the cofounder of iRobot, aka the company that invented the Roomba vacuum. However, she’s focused her attention on drones more recently. Back in April she and her team at CyPhy Works launched a Kickstarter campaign and successfully funded the LVL1 Drone, a product built for everyday people.
CyPhy Works has seen some incredible traction, and it’s in no small part due to Greiner’s impressive leadership skills. Not only does she have a strong background in autonomous robot tech, she’s also one of the most decorated females in tech to date. She’s also a strong advocate for getting more women involved in tech.
McCue’s article actually quotes Greiner, “The pipeline [of workers coming into the industry] isn’t equal, but, when we have an executive team meeting at our company, women outnumber men…We are encouraging young women to jump into these systems and make them how they want.”
Dyan Gibbens, CEO and founder of Trumbull Unmanned
Gibbens is an Air Force Academy graduate with a decade of technical experience leading acquisitions and aerospace program management in the US Department of Defense. Given her experience as a former pilot herself, it’s fitting that she would work to make drones more accessible to the general public.
What makes her critical to the equation is a skill set in unmanned systems, engineering management, and aviation logistics. She’s currently splitting time between Trumbull Unmanned and Unmanned Cowboys – both are companies that provide opportunities to capitalize on the efficiencies that unmanned systems can bring to the world.
Her work has brought drone technology to new heights with solar panels that integrate into drones and triples the flight time for the craft. Not to mention she’s helped develop and built ATLAS, a drone that’s safe for both indoor and outdoor usage.
Lisa Ellman, Law Partner at Hogan Lovells
While people like Greiner and Gibbens are innovating on the technological side, Ellman has spent her time working to help change regulations surrounding Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The focus of her work at Hogan Lovells Government Regulatory practice group has been heavily focused on the state of domestic drones.
After all, there’s no denying that our current drone policies are strict, to say the least. Throughout her career Ellman has made it her goal to bridge the sizeable gap between these government policies and business innovation. Is there a market vertical more applicable than drone technology these days?
According to McCue’s article, Ellman helps businesses get special permissions from the FAA that lets them take flight with their drone tech. Further, he points out that opening up the skies to commercial drones in turn leads to pointed questions like if a drone should be allowed in an urban area.
He quotes Ellman, “The market has developed so quickly and the technology has taken off the point where the policy making has struggled to keep up. These are conversations that policymakers and innovators are having now, and they’re critical to moving the industry forward in a timely way.”
If you’re at all curious about the current state of FAA policy in your area make sure to check out Know Before You Fly.
Sally French, Social Media Editor at MarketWatch
As you’re probably aware, MarketWatch tracks the pulse of markets for engaged investors, racking up more than 16 million visitors per month. French sits as the Social Media Editor for the site and has built a strong passion everything drone oriented.
To that end she’s actually launched her own site called Drone Girl, which was created with the intent of exploring drones and how they can assist the world via the onboard imaging technology. According to French, drones have many positive uses in our society that potentially get blotted out by the stigma attached to them.
“Drones are a new tool of making images from the air. Aerial photography has been around for decades – with photos coming from photographers in helicopters, airplanes and even weather balloons,” reads the Drone Girl site. “This project simply does aerial photography through a quadcopter with a camera attached to it. It’s cheaper than commissioning a helicopter, and it can be used at a moment’s notice, essentially bringing what was a rare form of photography to the more mainstream.”
Image Credit: Wikipedia