Una's blog

Days of drones: June 2016

by Mark Rowe

Last month our regular US contributor Una Riley visited the ISC West exhibition in Las Vegas. While she found it comparable to IFSEC, in many ways the technology stood out – with the cyber security section, copious cloud storage facilities and of course ‘drones’.

I feel that we have a comparable situation now as we did in the early days of Intruder technology. The recognised term for an intruder system was commonly ‘burglar alarm’ but the industry did not like the term. Instead they wanted the sector to be known as the intruder systems sector. Now it is the same with the ‘drones’ sector. At a ‘drone’ conference in Washington DC, some years back, the trade group running the event sent a not-so-subtle message to the journalists there: the Wi-Fi password was DONTSAYDRONES in the press room. As the ‘drone’ industry started to take off the industry wanted a different name. They felt that the word ‘drone’ suggested a technically inaccurate description and also had a militaristic connotation. Unmanned-aircraft advocates apparently found it hard to agree on what the devices should be called. A patent attorney with clients in the commercial-drone industry suggested they might be called ‘crone’ for commercial drones … that didn’t fly!

There is UAVS (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems), RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft), and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System). Some prefer the more digestible ‘unmanned aircraft’, or just ‘robot’, while European Union officials seem to have opted for the bulkier RPAS, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. However, on this side of the pond it seems like the UAVS tag seems to be the term most used. At last month’s ISC Exhibition I noticed three stand-out UAVS representing low, middle and high end products that caught my eye. One was a guy selling a UAVS in a case for a special show price of $800. They were selling like hot cakes and I asked the vendor; do you have an audit trail of who you are selling these UAVS to? He replied by shaking his head intimating ‘No’ and did not seem to be in the slightest bit bothered who he sold to or who bought them. There was also a middle market manufacturer that seemed to be on the right track as far as security was concerned, but the stand-out unit for me was Nightingale Intelligent Systems. This product was the one for me not only because of the superior technology but also their awareness of the wider world of security. There was a lot of interest in the product and it seemed a draw to some very influential prospects. On behalf of Professional Security we were invited to an outside display along with a handful of carefully selected potential buyers. The people present at the demonstration were high end prospective clients and I was requested beforehand not to mention any brands at the demo. I also agreed to a non-disclosure of business critical information.

Nightingale are taking security seriously and I assured Tal Turner, Global Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships that I would not divulge any sensitive information. We were the only press to have been invited to the demo, I think that was because we were in the company of a couple of the technical executives from Gavin De Becker and Associates [interviewed by Una two years ago]. I can say that the demo was awesome and very impressive, you can check-out Nightingale’s website for information. Their UAVS does not need human intervention to recharge … it simply flies back to its nest and stays there until it is designated for its next assignment. The co-founders of Nightingale Intelligent Systems are Jack Wu, who dropped out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions in the emerging online technologies. Since then he has worked in start-ups, eGroups and Yahoo, with many other positions as CEO and business owner. Jack is the co-founder and CEO of Nightingale. He also invests and advises companies in the online space. He still acts in an advisory capacity to past and present organisations which include EventBrite, Geni, Glam Media, SpaceX, and Yammer. The other co-founder is John Hsu who received his PhD. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 2004. His doctoral dissertation work included a novel numerical algorithm for the development of solving complex unsteady transonic flows and coupled aerodynamics. This is the calibre of expertise getting into the wider world of security via this new technical revolution. Upon completion of his PhD., he went on to work at SpaceX [the commercial company making spacecraft] on the Falcon rocket’s navigation system. Hsu’s current research interests include robotics such as robotic navigation, planning, manipulation and perception. Out here in LA and in Palo Alto this type of work is exploding … the future is already here.

I wanted to find out if there was a trade association established for this new wave of technology and discovered a trade association was founded in 2014 for the primary purpose of serving the growing UAVS (drone) community. The association is based in Los Angeles. The UAVSA (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association) was at the forefront of this consumer wave, and in less than a year developed key partnerships, launched its membership programme and online portal, and created a calendar of events. The UAVSA team has worked to initiate and manage the now annual International Drone Expo, in December in Los Angeles Convention Centre, the largest consumer ‘Drone’ Expo of its kind and I plan to be there reporting on it.

Keith Kaplan, Co-Founder and CEO of the UAVSA is also the CEO of the Tesla Foundation, a non-profit science and technology think tank. The foundation combines its ‘technology farm’ system, research, learning, applications and educational events. The aim is to focus on the responsibility of those that can shape our future to integrate all technology in a safe and ethical manner for all of humankind. Do you recall when integrated solutions was making access, CCTV and intruder systems work together? This is a new revolution of the IoT (Internet of Things). The wider world of security is just a facet in the jewel of IoT … but an important one. The Tesla Foundation recognise that we have crossed the threshold and have entered the fourth stage of the Industrial Revolution, the ‘Autonomous Age’. This transition disrupts the methodologies and processes of our commercial and private lives in almost every way. It is much more evident over here than it is in the UK right now. With the application of cyber-physical systems connected by the Internet of Things (IoT), public institutions and private companies find themselves disrupted or just not ready. The Tesla Foundation addresses these challenges pertaining to ‘Industry 4.0’ as it is commonly known. Industry 4.0 is a collective term embracing a number of automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. It had been defined as ‘a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain organisations which draws together CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems), the IoT and the IoS (Internet of Services) to facilitate this transition in a responsive manner and to adapt to any market demand incredibly quickly and with super flexibility. Their mission is to make sure this is a reality for America.

I caught up with Keith Kaplan. I wanted to know more. Kaplan explained that the think-tank provides the highest level of research and analysis possible to assist the public and private sectors of all types to understand potential opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0, and to implement these opportunities for the betterment of all mankind. He went on to say that when innovators and capital are managed with intelligence and responsibility, great things happen. Mankind is improved with responsible technology transfer and great wealth is created for many. The foundation through its non-profit efforts creates the research and education to generate efficient systems to make this possible. The founders of the foundation believe there is a process for technology transfer that will create jobs and companies in America. This is the main thrust of the foundation. We chatted about the comparison of the early days of the electronic security sector compared with the new IoT entrants and in particular the UAVS market. I said that the UAVS market is like the TV series Big Bang Theory meets another TV show, Silicon Valley, with the characters. Kaplan laughed and said: “We are just beginning a new era of aviation. The future is now and AUVS are here to stay!” We talked about the products being manufactured with more sophisticated sensors, enhanced digital technology, GPS (Global Positioning System) and LiDAR; a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light. LiDAR is an acronym – Light Detection and Ranging. Systems, drones and other robotic vehicles are revolutionising the way we live and do business. Kaplan continued: “AUVS became an economically feasible choice for business owners and prosumers [producers and consumers] ushering in the biggest gateway to aviation we have ever seen. Much like the internet boom, drones are changing our lives for the better. The commercial drone sector will continue to be a key growth factor in creating next generation technology.” We continued to speak at length about technology and standards. Kaplan recognised both the threats and the opportunities as far as the wider world of security was concerned with these new products. As a result the UAVSA is well on the road to introducing best practice documents for the commercial sector. To finish I asked; does the Tesla Foundation have anything to do with the Tesla Motor Company? Kaplan replied: “We are part of the same technology family but we are not directly associated with them.”

Related News

  • Una's blog

    Guard firm going green

    by Mark Rowe

    Russel Kerr, Managing Director of the guarding firm SecuriGroup, is one of those industry characters that makes a difference within our profession,…

  • Una's blog


    by Mark Rowe

    On a recent visit to Arecont Vision in Los Angeles one of the first things I noticed in the reception area was…

  • Una's blog

    Trailblazer scheme launch

    by Mark Rowe

    The Government has replaced the former apprenticeship scheme with a new, employer-designed, Trailblazer scheme. An apprentice will be required to detail their…


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay on top of security news and events.

© 2023 Professional Security Magazine. All rights reserved.