Calling the drone industry to action

We reproduce the below article from drone technology expert Callum Holland, which we can only conclude is a toast to players in the drone industry who are not afraid to make mistakes for the sake of progress; and a call to everyone involved within the drone technology space to bring proposals to life; rather than keep them safe and untested in the blueprints.

We hope you enjoy it. You can follow Callum’s Business of Drones newsletter here.

As a stakeholder, has there been a time when you have felt that progress in our beloved drone industry has stagnated a bit?

Then this article is for you. My hope is by reading it, we collectively address the need for greater collaboration and compromise in order to push our industry forward. We are privileged enough to work with technologies that will improve the lives of billions of people in the future; we should never forget the responsibility that comes with that.

That is why, as an industry, we should start making decisions.

More often than not, there are multiple different ways to resolve the myriad of challenges that drone technology poses for us at each and every turn. Some people will be aligned with one preferred solution, others may staunchly oppose it.

I have seen opposition – especially when it is either particularly vocal, or concerns contentious subject matter – put the whole industry off arriving at a decision altogether. Instead, we sit in a constant state of flux where everyone (mostly courteously) discusses all the potential solutions without deciding on any one of them.

Callum Holland

This may make us all comfortable in the short term, but does not help anybody in the long term.

This global inability to collectively define a way forward is stagnating any form of progress, and it is not unique only to the above example.

I believe our industry is particularly vulnerable to indecision given the significance of what it is we are trying to achieve. Let’s take Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights outside of segregated airspace, for example; how do we ensure the mid-air-collision risk is sufficiently mitigated? I have my own thoughts on the subject, as I am sure you do. Actually, I believe most of us have made an individual decision on a way forward, but as an industry we are far from having an aligned position.

We’ve all likely heard of the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism we as humans experience, but this isn’t the whole story. We have a third ‘cave-man’ response to stressful situations; and that is threat-lockdown – rather than stand our ground and fight the bear, or run for our lives, we are consumed so much by what is happening and concerned with the outcome of making a wrong decision that we freeze and do nothing.

A few thousand years ago this would have resulted in a tasty meal for the bear, today it means decisions don’t get taken. It is important to note we can experience threat lockdown both as individuals as well as groups.

As an industry, if we are having difficulty choosing a particular option, that means it doesn’t really matter which one we choose. If there was a clear winner then it would be obvious to the majority. Similarly, if there was a disastrous option, it would be cast aside by most.

That leaves solutions which stand on their own merits, with their own advantages and disadvantages, but fundamentally, all solve the challenge. Even a bad decision is better than no decision.

Having recently learnt about akrasia I thought you might find it interesting as it feeds into the main theme of this article. Have you ever had a task to do, or a decision to take, but didn’t do it? That’s akrasia.

You might be thinking, that sounds a lot like procrastination – it isn’t. Procrastination is about deciding to do something but simply putting it off for later because you would rather be reading this piece right at this moment in time (thank you, by the way – please like and share).

Akrasia is feeling that you should do a particular thing, or make a particular decision, without deciding to actually do it, even if you know it will benefit you. Akrasia comes from a Greek term which roughly translates to “lacking command over oneself”. Take starting a diet for example, you know being a healthy weight reduces your chances of heart disease, cognitive decline and cancer; yet we continue to eat in a calorific surplus.

Our basic instinct or ‘cave-man’ brain is demonstrating its superiority over the logical, conscious part of our being. What we must do is recognise when this is happening and fight it.

We must collectively become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and many of the decisions we have to take in our industry will make you uncomfortable and require compromise.

I’ll wrap this up with a quote from my favourite philosopher Tyrion Lannister of House Lannister: “No one is very happy, which means it’s a good compromise”.

About the Author: Callum is a leader within the UAS domain, with experience undertaking high-profile, complex demonstrations of key enabling technologies. His passion comes from showcasing to the world the power of drones when integrated into society the right way. His main area of work today focuses on overcoming the remaining technological, and regulatory hurdles to enable commercially viable, autonomous UAS operation in uncontrolled airspace. Outside of his passion for aviation, he is an avid scuba diver who thoroughly enjoys exploring the (very) cold waters around the UK.

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Loves to write. Loves technology


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