Romeo Durscher, Director of Education at DJI, gave the keynote address at the Drone Educators Conference held at Cal Poly Pomona this past week end. While the conference was focused on the various careers available in the drone industry, Mr. Durscher took a somewhat wider view in his opening remarks.
His comments touched not only on career opportunities, but also on how drones can be used to inform and illuminate and, most importantly, the importance for the all in the drone industry to educate the public on the technology’s benefits.
He was gently critical of the the U.S. media in particular. In slides tinged with humor he highlighted some of the coverage of the industry. He noted that media have “a big impact on the industry [and that] negative stories form public opinion.” He provided several examples and contrasted European press coverage of the drone industry with that in the United States. Where the U.S. focuses on the near misses of drones near airports, in Europe they highlight the recent agreement between Lufthansa and DJI.
Durscher said his focus in 2016 will be on humanitarian efforts and first responders. He continued to make the point that all needed to work on the issue of changing public perception.
The drone industry today is “like Silicon Valley on steroids,” said Durscher and he highlighted the 2016 DJI Developer Challenge which has a $100,000 prize as an example of the efforts DJI is making to engage developers including those in academia. He believes such initiatives will “really shape the future.” The 2016 DJI challenge requires, among other things, that developers have a drone take off and land on a moving truck. You can learn more about the challenge here.
Durscher cited several examples of firms that made use of the DJI SDK. They included Pix4D, DroneDeploy, AutoPilot Phantom, Cloudlight FPV, and Freeskies.
While Durscher noted that 75% of users are currently using drones for photography and posting and sharing images on Facebook and other social media, that will change and increasingly we will see drones used for specific purposes. The Challenge will help encourage that development.
As an example of how drones can reveal our world to us, Durscher showed a short video of an exploration made of the deep caves in Vietnam with Good Morning America. Here is the video.
You can find Mr. Durscher’s complete presentation here.