Imagine a world in which unmanned aircraft feed information to security personnel so they can make critical decisions in mere seconds. Imagine a company that can analyze a scene in real-time before sending human beings into the field, thus ensuring improved safety and efficiency.
Enter Cape Aerial Telepresence. I recently sat down with Chris Rittler, CEO of Cape – the world’s leading cloud-based platform for drone telepresence and data management – to discuss a wide range of topics. But first, a bit about Cape. A California-based company founded in 2014, Cape creates software making commercial drones easier and safer to use.
Many industries – including agriculture, utilities, construction, insurance, oil and gas, telecommunications and, industrial operations – currently use Cape technology. For example, an insurance agency might use it to assess damage captured by drone images instead of sending someone down to the site of the damage.
But I wanted answers to some of the larger questions surrounding the drone and technology industry. Why, for example, do Americans seem hesitant to embrace drones? Is it fear of technology eliminating jobs? Is it concern about privacy breaches? I was also curious about the next big thing in the drone industry.
Rittler told me that the U.S. is the largest market for drones. The challenge facing American drone companies, he said, has been creating a repeatable business model for themselves. On the question of drones replacing humans, Rittler said we have nothing to fear. Human jobs won’t disappear; they will just change. And drones will help humans be more prepared, enabling them to do their jobs more effectively.
For example, in the case of a fire, firemen will know which side of the building to enter because – thanks to a drone – they will know precise where the fire is most intense. Drones will also enable experienced employees whose physical strength has waned to continue contributing to the workforce. For example, a patrol officer may not be able to physically apprehend criminals at a certain age. But, with the help of a drone, he will be able to use his 30 years of experience to help guide a junior officer on the ground.
All that said, the public is understandably nervous about security and privacy breaches. According to Rittler, two safety components must be addressed. First, companies must show that they have gone through security evaluations ensure that their privacy level is topnotch.
Second, the public must be educated to understand how drones are being uses. For example, the police force is not using drones as a “big brother” exercise to patrol the skies. Rather, it is sending them to a specific location to respond to specific emergencies. Police can arrive at the scene of an emergency in 6-10 minutes. Drones can arrive at the same scene in a minute or two.
As for the future, Rittler does not anticipate one “next big thing.” Rather, he expects we will see a rapid adoption of drones for commercial and civil use over the next 2-3 years. Drones, he said, will evolve from being a forensic tool – gathering data after an incident – to being a complementary response tool. Rittler also expects to see the emergence of a new science to policing and public safety that includes drones.
Part II of my interview with Chris Rittler will be printed in next week’s issue. Stay tuned!