Over the next few weeks, Commercial UAV News will present a series of “State of the Industry” articles. Experts from the fields of public safety, agriculture, mining, energy, and more will discuss the ways commercial UAVs are transforming their industries. They will also present their insights and analysis on the challenges ahead.

In the first installment of the series, WhiteFox Defense found Luke Fox talks with Commercial UAV News about the security sector.

“To unlock the full potential of drone technology, we need to create trust,” said Luke Fox, founder of WhiteFox Defense. In a conversation with Commercial UAV News, Fox asserted that building trust with businesses, government officials, and the general public is the key challenge facing the UAV security sector.

“We need to enable the public to trust drones, we need to enable delivery providers to trust drones, we need to enable drones to trust other drones, and we need to enable law enforcement to trust the drones in the sky,” Fox said. “Creating trust would lead to unleashing billions of dollars in economic potential and the full potential of this life-saving technology.”

For security professionals like Fox, drone pilots who do not conform with rules and regulations present the biggest barrier to trust-building.

“There are four different types of drone pilots: the compliant, the clueless, the careless, and the criminal,” Fox asserted. “Unfortunately, the criminal, the clueless, and the careless are seeing the full value of the state of technology, whereas the compliant have been delayed for years by cumbersome, archaic processes and regulations that, unfortunately, do not meet the needs of the public.”

Fox believes that this situation has impeded growth in the commercial UAV industry. “When we look at the past decade or so in this industry, we have seen an incredible amount of stagnation because the technology platforms themselves have developed to a point well beyond what regulation allows,” Fox stated. “When we look at who’s able to really see the benefit of the technology that exists, you see largely consumers, whereas the commercial industry, which is bound to operate properly and follow the regulations, often finds its hands tied when they try to provide the public with the benefits and value of this technology.”

According to Fox, transparency and accountability are essential to creating trust and unleashing the benefits of commercial drones.

“You need to be able to look in the sky and understand what you’re seeing,” Fox explained. “If you see a drone, you need to know what it’s doing, why it’s there, how long it’s been here, who’s flying it. When you can answer these key questions, there’s transparency. When you know that there’s something that can be done about a malicious drone there’s accountability.” 

Fox reported that WhiteFox Defense and other security firms are working to increase transparency and accountability throughout the industry. Essential to these efforts are systems that increase public trust while not interfering with the efficient, effective, and legal operation of drones.

“WhiteFox is known as the world's most pro-drone counter drone company,” he stated. “So, we have developed technology that passively detects drones so there's no interference or interruption.”

Fox reported that this technology has been deployed at airports, in city centers, and around critical infrastructure to ensure that drones can operate safely without interference. “WhiteFox provides a ‘fingerprint’ of the drone. We can tell if this drone is the same drone that flew at each of the power substations or if it’s just a 13-year-old kid flying who always flies in that neighborhood. We can filter out all the noise.”

Filtering out the noise requires high-quality, trusted data. According to Fox, effective data collection, sharing, and management is driving new growth in the commercial drone sector.

“Investors have realized that the industry offers incredibly powerful software solutions but a huge part of the value of these solutions comes from the data that goes into it,” he explained. “So, you need to have that trusted data of what is happening in the airspace, and you need to have cross communication, data sharing, and collaboration. Otherwise, you only see a slice of what’s happening in the airspace.”

For the drone security sector, improvements in transparency, accountability, data collection, and data sharing will continue to be priorities, Fox believes. And, ultimately, the trust created through these improvements will move the sector forward.

“For those who want to embrace drone technology, it all goes back to trust,” he asserted. “How do you deploy drones in an already congested airspace? How do you make sure the public trusts that that drone that’s hovering over my neighbor’s backyard isn't spying on me? You do it by giving them the data to know that that drone is authorized that it’s delivering much-needed insulin. You give them immediate awareness of who, what, when, where, and why. It all comes back to trusted data.”