Detroit Aircraft Corporation CEO Jon Rimanelli believes so. In a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press, Rimanelli explained why Detroit could be the catalyst for the emergence of drones in the mass market.
The first part of Rimanelli’s explanation is his own company. The Detroit Aircraft Corp, which utilizes both custom and brand name drones, advertises all sorts of services it can provide such as aerial photography, agricultural data collection, utility monitoring etc. But, Rimanelli says “Right now, what we’re focused on is first-response applications. Firefighters, special response teams, search and rescue, Coast Guard and border patrol ops.”
This is an intelligent approach to forcing drones into the public eye; build drones meant to save the lives of civilians and people in the line of duty, demonstrate to the first responders that they work, and demand will follow. No one (in their right mind) is going to say we shouldn’t use a tool that could save the life of a fireman.
Not only will there be demand for these drones from the first responders themselves, there will also be public demand for the FAA to hurry up and get their regulations in place.
Or the public may demand the FAA back off; in March, Federal Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled against the FAA saying the organization had no jurisdiction over small drone aircraft flown under 400 feet. This lead another Detroit-based company,FlowerDeliveryExpress.com, to resume testing delivery by drone after the FAA had ordered them to cease and desist.
In a case that perfectly parallels Rimanelli’s goal, the FAA recently told EquuSearch, a non-profit, search and rescue outfit in Texas, they had to stop their use of drones. EquuSearch CEO Tim Miller is not having it. He told KBRC2 in Houston he will not stop using drones and he has is ready to sue should the FAA intervene again.
“We’ve recovered 11 deceased bodies with that drone airplane,” Miller told KBRC2, “We let these families and law enforcement know we’re going to bring in every resource possible and they [the FAA] are blocking us from bringing in a resource that’s very, very valuable…”I mean, we’ve recovered 11 deceased bodies with that drone airplane.”
These are the sparks that will ignite the fire. Rimanelli’s plan is to make sure Detroit is ready to feed the flames. He wants to partner with government, industry and universities to create an industrial center at Detroit’s east-side airport. A central hub for drone development, manufacturing and testing could help move Detroit’s struggling automotive-based economy toward the new, but similar field of individual/automatically piloted UAVs. Such a shift perfectly coincides with Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s proposed bankruptcy restructuring plan – which includes a reinvestment in the airport to the tune of $28.5 million.
Could UAVs be the key to mending Detroit’s economic woes? “This technology is going to make it very accessible for people to get into aviation without an extraordinary amount of training,” Rimanelli said. “This is where the opportunity is.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com