Patrique Zaman, CEO of Avy, a European long-range drone company, sees magic in the skies. “When I hear people talk about a new revolution, I think it’s true,” says Zaman. “There is an aviation revolution. Just look up.”
Avy focuses on long range drones for lifesaving missions: medical, conservation, and more. With some big wins this week – Avy introduces their latest wing drone at Amsterdam Drone Week, and announces a partnership with Medical Drone Service in the Dutch healthcare system – they’re newsworthy. In his keynote address at Amsterdam Drone Week, however, Zaman didn’t mention his own achievements. “I’m not here to be an ambassador for Avy,” he says. “I’m here to be an ambassador for the skies – because we need to.”
Traffic is a problem everywhere, but it has become such a major problem in some European cities that emergency services can’t function, and safety is seriously compromised. This means that cities need to think differently about the issue. “I think that the way out is the way up,” says Zaman, suggesting that the technology is already a long way along to allow urban air mobility (UAM). “All of the technology of self-driving cars, we already use for autonomous flying; and to be honest, it’s a lot easier up there – we can see a lot further.”
“We should unlock the sky,” says Zaman. “If we’re able to do that, cities not only become nicer – more livable – but they become cleaner as well. Most of the aircraft is electric. If we’re able to boost that ecosystem, we’ll have clean skies and cleaner air.”
Eat an Elephant
Drone integration, and that unlocking of the skies, is a huge project – but Zaman says that there is a lot that can be accomplished now. “We tend to look at this from the perspective of seeing how the whole system is going to move, and how we will manage that – but we can’t,” says Zaman. “The problems that we think of now might not happen; the problems that will arise may be things that we haven’t thought of yet.”
Zaman refers to the old adage about how to tackle any large project – in that same way that you “eat an elephant” – bite by bite. “If we see the drone ecosystem like that elephant, we should think about how we can start taking small bites,” says Zaman, commenting on forward progress in the industry like flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and medical delivery. “We’re doing a great job with that.”
People say that they can’t move forward because the technology or the regulations aren’t there yet. I don’t think that’s true. It’s not only about waiting – it’s about doing.”
“We should move forward, move up,” says Zaman. “No more excuses.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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