Drone show season continues, and this week London hosts the Commercial UAV Show. For a global audience that includes many from the U.K., DJI’s Dr. Barbara Stelzner offered a consistent message: despite media coverage to the contrary, drones are an indispensable tool.
DJI is taking the stage all over the world to get the message out, as industry headwinds gather. Public perception of drones remains unsure, if not negative. The media – especially in the U.K., and increasingly so since the damaging and destructive drone incidents at Gatwick Airport last December – publishes far more fear-mongering and negative stories about drones than good ones. Governments, especially in the U.S., are raising fears of data security from Chinese-manufactured technology products, including drones.
Stelzner began by providing her audience with an abbreviated road map of DJI’s development process, and their “Elevating Safety” program. (The “Elevating Safety” whitepaper provides more detail). “Drone technology, image stabilization and robotics work together to create our products and services,” says Stelzner.
To improve drone safety, the company plans a number of technology improvements and contributions to badly needed industry standards. DJI plans to install AirSense DSD-8 receivers in all new drone over 250 grams, provide new automatic warning for drone pilots flying at extended distances, and establish a new internal safely standards to meet regulatory and customer expectations.
On the subject of data security – a hot topic as the U.S. government considers limiting purchases of Chinese-manufactured drones with government funds – Stelzner’s message is equally clear. “Your Data is not our business,” she says, “DJI does not share flight logs, images, or data.” Stelzner points out that no direct internet access is needed to fly a DJI drone.
Stelzner also he spoke about the fact that the general media gives a disproportional emphasis to negative stories about drones: despite continued evidence that many reports of issues between drones and manned aircraft prove to be false, and that the positive role that drones play in public services is far greater than any danger that they may pose. She points out one of the the most dramatic drones for good stories in Europe: firefighters using drones to access the Notre Dame fire as it burned, when helicopters could not be used because the downdraft would have helped to fan the flames. DJI drones were used to help manage the dispersion of water to help put the fire out, and are also being used in the reconstruction of Notre Dame to access areas of the cathedral that are unstable for humans to evaluate.The role that drones played may not have received a big portion of the Notre Dame media coverage, but Stelzner says that the industry needs to work to get those stories out.
Improving public perception of drones is up to the drone community, Stelzner says: and DJI can’t do it alone. The entire drone ecosystem will have to work together to ensure that drone technology is allowed to reach it’s full potential.