In the past, the Federal Aviation Administration – part of the U.S. Department of Transportation – dealt primarily with aircrafts, but now drones outnumber commercial aircrafts by a significant percentage and regulation hasn’t caught up yet, according to Chris Rittler, CEO of Cape, the world’s leading cloud-based platform for drone telepresence and data management.
About a year ago, though, the White House issued a memorandum requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration create a program to accelerate the rate of drone adoption for safe commercial use. According to Rittler, it was a bold move. And the government, he said, is executing its mandate quite well. Cape is currently working closely with the Department of Transportation on determining how to safely integrate drones into daily life.
However, even if regulations do “catch up” to recent technological innovations, technology as a whole is evolving at a rate that arguably exceeds the human ability to adapt. Leading technologists have espoused this theory, which is also expounded upon in Thomas L. Friedman’s most recent book, Thank You for Being Late. It is the inability for humans to adapt which might be the biggest technological challenge facing the industry today.
Rittler recalls conversations he had when he was making some of the first cell phone calls. At the time, people wondered who would use cell phones. Today, virtually everyone has a smart phone! Rittler anticipates that we’re at the same point with drones; in a few years, he thinks, they’ll become commonplace.
Rittler believes the key to helping people adapt faster to technological changes is presenting technology in a manner that enables them to embrace it without being overwhelmed. One manner of accomplishing this task is by demonstrating the value technology brings to people’s lives. For example, explaining that an officer with 20 years of experience now has access to a live feed and can be in communication with officers on the ground can be reassuring, as opposed to overwhelming. In other words, remove the “technology part” and speak about what can be achieved instead.
As my interview with Rittler came to a close, I wondered what made him so passionate about technology. He was kind enough to share his story with me. Rittler originally wanted to become a doctor. When he took the SATs, it was recommended – by an automated survey no less – that he pursue a career in engineering due to his strength in math. Still intent on becoming a doctor, Rittler found a program that enabled him to do pre-med and engineering simultaneously.
While completing his Masters, Rittler worked on a project to create a device to restore vision to the blind by stimulating the cortex of the brain. After seeing firsthand technology’s impact on peoples’ lives, he decided to become an engineer.
He started working in hardware and, at one point, had to write a piece of software. It was out of necessity, but the experience opened his eyes to how much could be accomplished by just one little chip. He took the plunge and changed from the physical to the virtual. And it’s what he’s been doing ever since.
If Rittler is right, drones are a game-changer and we may see drones integrated into every aspect of society in the coming years.