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A conversation with Event 38 Founder Jeff Taylor

 

Event 38 provides UAS-related services worldwide from bases in North and South America.

We have known about Event 38 for a while and decided it was time to reach out and learn more about their business.  Their Founder, Jeff Taylor, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share more about their business.

Q. Could you share a bit of your pre Event 38 background with our readers?

I studied aerospace engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland where my senior design project first got me into the drone building community at DIY Drones. After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to work on electronics for the Dragon space capsule at SpaceX. There I worked on the first commercial ISS resupply missions. After that, I took an early position at 3D Robotics as head of research and development.

Q. Event 38 is doing some very cool work. What prompted you to launch this business?

While working at 3DR, I found the most interesting application of drones was in photogrammetry or mapping. I tinkered with building ready to fly mapping drones for a while and eventually decided to go off on my own and offer a full solution. There was plenty of demand for such a product and I had my first orders within a few weeks. The decision to leave such an exciting company was difficult but ultimately I thought it was the best way to have the biggest impact on what I think is the most valuable application of drones.

Q. The drone marketplace has evolved a great deal in the last four years, what has surprised you the most?

I am most surprised by the rapid pace of development and the quick maturity of the flight software ArduPlane. I could never have believed four years ago that you could build a drone and use an open source software package and actually rely on getting hundreds of error-free flights out of it. There are lots of world class open source software packages out there, but to my knowledge none of them had to be painstakingly tested in the air with hundreds or thousands of dollars of potential damage for each bug. It’s a testament to the power of open source tech, the quality of the dev teams and the persistence (and pocketbooks) of those willing to test on their own hardware.

Q. What technologies are you most excited about when you think of the next generation of drones?

I’m most excited about the range and depth of applications that drones can be used towards as the price comes down. I’ve already seen it at Event 38. By providing a low cost, reliable data collection platform, we have users with applications that they’d never have paid tens of thousands of dollars for.. Things like scouting jalapeno farms, palm oil plantations, surveying for rural towns in Colombia or archaeology sites in Chile. The next generation of reliability and cost will open even more doors for drone applications.

Q. You have Event 38 customers across the globe, which countries are, in your opinion, furthest along from a regulatory perspective?

The UK, Canada and Australia made early progress towards going commercial and are among the most advanced, having years of regulatory experience at this point. The US is making surprising strides at long last toward commercial operations. I think we’ll see some of the most relaxed rules come out of the FAA in the end.

Q. As you look at 3-5 years, what do you think will most surprise the average person about drones, how they are being used, the technology, etc?

As the operating price comes down through reliability improvements and commoditization of hardware, the number of drones operating at any one time will rapidly eclipse the number of manned aircraft in the sky. To the general public, the most surprising thing will be the sheer numbers of drones that will appear in the skies over the coming years, particularly once regulations allow operation beyond line of sight.

Q. What questions should we have asked you about yourself, about Event 38, or the state of the drone marketplace that you feel our readers should know more about?

The drone industry is quickly maturing and will continue to see rapid advancement over the next several years. I would tell the prospective buyer to make sure they’re getting what they need and to keep in mind that everything will likely be better and faster in 6-12 months. Also check how easy it will be to upgrade components of your system with the manufacturer, particularly sensors. Finally, make sure you understand the upkeep and repair costs associated with drone operation. Repairs in the industry range from “add duct tape and fly” to sending the entire drone back to the manufacturer for repair! Take that into consideration and think about what would work best for you.

 

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