The Rise of the Machines
UAS Implications for Remote Sensing and National Policy

Mike Tully
President & CEO
Aerial Servic...
Today’s EMS UAS

Olaeris AEVA
Right to Privacy

We the People
4th Amendment: The right of the people
4th Amendment: The right of the people
to be secure...

Garmin GPS Tracking, $300

Lat/Long with each pixel

Right to Know
The Internet
Flying Swarms
Think Small
Think Highly Automated
Think Capable
Think Big!
with mind boggling
Think Applications
Flying, Mapping Robots

Be heard! Get involved.
More Info
Parts 1 & 2 of “Rise of the
& Much more

The Rise of the Machines - ASPRS Fall 2013 - Presented by Mike Tully
The Rise of the Machines - ASPRS Fall 2013 - Presented by Mike Tully
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The Rise of the Machines - ASPRS Fall 2013 - Presented by Mike Tully


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What will the future of remote sensing and geospatial activities look like after unmanned aerial vehicles are fully integrated into national airspace and allowed for commercially across the country? In this informative session, Aerial Services' Mike Tully will explore what markets, businesses, and new opportunities may look like in the future. UAV/UAS promises to be "disruptive" technology and may turn many existing business models on their heads. We'll explore these topics and consider the effects to remote sensing and geospatial in the future.

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  • The age of UAS is here! It promises to be exciting. That vehicle we just saw is not “the future”. It is being sold today. The reason I used this video today is to visualize a few things for our talk today about UAS, privacy, and technology. The UAV, made possible by several “enabling” technologies may prove to be one of the most important applications of technology to come along in a long time. Maybe not as foundational and important to human history as the moldboard plow, printing press, or electricity, but at least for remote sensing and geospatial pursuits, earth-shattering!
  • On your walk thru San Anton to this conference How many times was your face photographed? By whom? For what reason? You know or suspect there are cams recording you. Shop owners’ cameras, public cams on telephone poles, at intersections, a Google car maybe, occasional bystander taking pics on his cell phone. Most of us have little problem with this. We don’t have an expectation of privacy in public spaces. Besides, no one person has all this information about my walk through town.
    ... but now imagine a “high res “read your face” camera is floating above the city on a UAV recording your entire walk and everyone you talk to and each place you stop at. And it is recording EVERYONE’s identity and journey through town. And it is a single device in the hands of a single individual. Someone has your precise geographic location and the time you were there …. Where you were everywhere on your trek through San Anton. etc. etc.
    The point: all this can happen or has happened today. So, a couple things:
    First, UAS are coming. They will be AMAZING. They are very powerful, very geospatial tools. They can be extremely useful tools that will benefit society in tremendous ways. A thousand ways … many ways we have yet to imagine.
    Second, geospatial information is extremely meaningful. It is enabling technology for many things both positive and negative. Sometimes seemingly innocuous geospatial information when combined with other seemingly innocuous information suddenly intersects “liberty”, “decency”, “privacy”.
    Third, Privacy professionals don’t understand “geospatial”. Geospatial professionals don’t really understand “privacy” policy. These two groups need to cross-fertilize so the one does not trammel the other. We need to get involved as professionals and practitioners in the discussion of how UAS should be used as GREAT Technological tools that will benefit our society greatly not as dangerous liberty-sucking threats if used nephariously by our gov’t or individuals or businesses.
    This is the ground I want to cover today in the next 15 minutes.
  • When we talk about privacy one of our core principles or protections is “the 4th Amendment states,
    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”]
    This concept of protection of an individual’s right to privacy (& unreasonable searches and seizures) is not outdated or obsolete by any means.
    The Fourth Amendment is as essential and is as valid today as the day it was included in the Bill of Rights over 220 years ago. But UAV are about to push new questions on us. For example, some questions technology is pushing today is: What is my "space"? I know I own my yard and you can’t come there without my permission. But what about above my yard? That is National Airspace … a public resource.
    Today, we know it is legal for me to peer into your house from the street with binoculars. If your curtains are open, you can’t stop me. It’s a little creepy, but me and the police can do this. But can I fly my $200 Parrot Quadcopter using my iPhone up near your 3rd story bedroom window and peer in? What about the police? Have they the right without court permission?
    Is it OK for the police to follow you everywhere you go for a week and record your whereabouts? Or can someone else? Remember we will all be able to fly UAS.
    You see, In the past, the practical limitations of technology have often been the best protectors of our privacy and liberty.
    For Example: if I wanted to peer into your 3rd story bedroom I had to get a USB camera on a long pole and stand beneath your window. I had to be there physically and had to be really obvious. But now, I can remotely pilot my camera right outside your bedroom and you’ll never know its there.
    Likewise, to record your location 24 hours a day required police to physically follow you. Very time consuming, and expensive. But precisely because this has always been really expensive and time consuming the police choose to do this only with bad guys, or suspected bad guys. But then tiny, inexpensive, super-easy to use GPS devices happened.
  • This is a Garmin GPS tracking unit. $300 with a year of service. I almost bought this earlier this week to put on my dog that likes to run off with the ladies all night. But I found another for even less: $99. Slip this into your friends car. Put this in your child’s backpack to ensure he gets to school. This device makes it really easy and inexpensive for the police to follow anyone all the time and not have to physically be there. Geospatial technology changes the equation of privacy & liberty.
  • Most of us in this room work with orthophotos. 6” or maybe 3” GSD type pictures. We all know these are no “ordinary” pictures. In fact, there is a precise coordinate associated with each pixel. These pictures tell us not only what is on the ground but WHERE (and the metadata tells us WHEN) it is. Today we don’t much worry about this. I provide the remote sensing and production services that create this geospatial information. But what happens when I have access to inexpensive technology that can create orthos with far greater resolution than 3” and can add another dimension to this city-wide imagery: WHO is in the picture? What happens when everyone has access to this technology and can fly over the fence in your backyard (in public airspace!!) and take high res. Pictures?
  • Or consider that today if the press arrives on an accident scene it is easy for the police to keep them and others away from the injured victims and afford them some privacy. But what if the journalist is able to simply throw a UAV up in the air and fly OVER the scene and take high res. Pics of the victims and publish the embarrassing and maybe grisly photos? Don’t we have a right to know? Do the victims have an expectation of privacy laying on the side of the road in a public space? But even if it is legal to take these photos and the victim has no expectation of privacy, Is it “decent” to publish these photos?
    These are all questions that UAS will be forcing upon us that will need to be answered with sensible policy.
    I want you to notice a couple things:
    There’s nothing wrong with the technology of UAVs or one of its enabling technology: GPS. UAS are not scary or bad. They are not good. It’s HOW they are used that make them useful for good or bad. Policy is important to discourage “bad” uses and “incentivize” good uses.
  • Regulations should, whenever possible, NOT regulate a technology but those “acts” that can be committed with THAT technology. There are 40+ states considering legislation to regulate “UAS”. Some say “UAS cannot be flown.” The rationale is that “they’re scary, they can be abused, and people fear them.” But that is precisely the WRONG way to deal with new technology. “Using” a UAS should not be regulated away. Instead policy makers should strengthen laws about “peeping toms”, for example, and ensure that if UAVs are used to “peep” there is a big price to pay. But don’t prohibit all UAVs from flying in our neighborhoods because they MIGHT be used to “peep”. They just as well could be there to map incursion into powerline right of ways, potholes on streets, code violations, traffic enforcement, surveil your children on their way home from school to ensure their safety, etc.
    Over regulation of or wrongly regulating an enabling technology can limit that technology’s contribution to society. To illustrate, let’s talk about the internet.
  • Few people, if any, in 1989 could have predicted the internet’s effect on the world economy and global societies. It was impossible then to foresee the mind-boggling applications (both good and bad) that would be spawned by this enabling technology.
    Facebook, Google, billions of webpages, RSS, Big Data, the Cloud, and the Apple App Store all arose because innovators could freely innovate and sell stuff using this new technology unhindered by the trammels of regulation.
    Countless inefficiencies in business and communication were eliminated by sending packets of information dancing across the global net.
    Today there are nearly 1.2 billion Internet-enabled devices used by 2.5 billion people across the planet. This foundational, enabling technology created a rolling boil of commercial and technological opportunities over the last three decades forever altering society and commerce.
    UAS (and the underlying technologies that make them possible: precise location, wireless communications, miniturizaation, affordability) could produce similar effects and spawn amazing applications. They enable NOT JUST “licensed pilots” to use the National Airspace (the third dimension of a very large planet…think of this as a “platform”) but every business and every citizen.
    The national airspace will be used for the first time BY EVERYONE for a myriad of new uses that promise to make our lives better. The vehicles using this “platform” will be safe because the NextGen ATC system will support precise geopositioning of everything and rich communication between vehicles and traffic controllers via ADS-B systems. Further, aircraft will contain Sense & Avoid technology so they can detect and steer clear of each other and obstacles without human intervention.
  • UAS in 10 Years
    To close today I’d like to paint one possible picture of just what this new “UAS platform” may look like in the next 5-10 years. To do that we have to extrapolate based on what we know today and can imagine.
    This “extrapolation” is hard to see clearly because our imagination is constrained by that which we see and know. To illustrate:
    SLIDE: Look at the Tricorder immortalized in the 1960’s TV series, Star Trek. … It was to look like a device several hundred years into the future and could detect life forms from a distance. Notice its “Tv screen” and mechanical switches…flashing lights.
    The Tricorder was conceived by visionaries before the LED, miniaturization, and OLAP screen technologies, and demonstrates how that vision was constrained by the technology & concepts the writers experienced.
    The iPhone …Compare the Tricorder with my cell phone today: it works anywhere, is smaller than a tricorder, and has no blinking lights, no TV screen. But it is far, far more than a mere telephone. It serves as my compass, my gps, my level, my calculator, my computer, web browser, walkie talkie, pedometer, file cabinet, note pad, address book, library, stop watch, camera, video camera, address book, daytimer, music library, ipod, dictation machine, alarm clock, radio, TV, magazines, weatherman, game machine, etc.
    no one imagined a device small enough to hold in our hand could do so much. It may soon be taking our temperature and blood pressure, controlling implants, dispensing medications, who knows. Why can’t it provide a personal “cat scan” or “x-ray” in the not too distant future? Or smell cancer?
    The future of UAS is similarily difficult to imagine! But here are some “broad” strokes, outlines, of what it may look like.
    Business cases: At first, only providers use them, THEN as they become simpler to use and affordable, client purchase & use
    The future application of UAS may progress similar to how GPS technology was adopted, that is,
    1992 ASI was very early adopter of GPS for use in surveying our orthophotography and mapping projects. Equipment was expensive and required highly trained specialists. Within 10 years because it became more affordable and easier to use, much of our mapping business was gone because clients used their own GPS equip. to map small areas.
    first, providers will use UAS to provide a variety of services,
    Second, clients will use uav and don’t need providers.
    The progression from me, a provider, using UAS to provide services TO our clients and the non-professional using their own UAS for many apps, will probably occur over well less than 10 years because the pace at which technology and information moves is increasing.
    Technology: describe the technology and applications
  • Video of Swarms: We may also see the application of “swarms” of UAS. This is possible because NAS is opened and NextGen technologies that enable real-time location of and communication between aircraft.
  • Think small.
  • Think highly automated (not only flying but processing of imagery).
  • Think very capable (equivalent to what ASI uses in manned aircraft today).
  • Think big with mind boggling specializations and capabilities.
  • Think Applications
    Likely applications of Unmanned Systems in next 10 years
    1. flying crop sprayers, etc.
    2. Unmanned trucks, aircraft, cars, cameras, etc. UPS, FEDX, pizza delivery, live sports TV, journalism, and yes, remote sensing, surveillance, EMS,
    3. incorporate flash LIDAR and many other ElectroMag wavelengths, gravity, wireless signals
  • Video of Flying Robots: example of building sophisticated 3D models in real time without the use of LiDAR
  • I want to close with reminder that “regulation” may have a BIG effect on this adoption and application of UAS. If regulation, because of privacy concerns, stupid bureaucracy, or any other reason, becomes too onerous, all of this could be slowed substantially. For example, already the FAA has NOT met deadlines they were mandated to meet in the 2012 reauthorization bill. The 6 UAS test sites still have not been designated. NPRM for sUAS have still not been issued. While much of the rest of the world uses them safely for a variety of legitimate civil uses.
    The effect of this “stall” is pent up demand, innovation, and loss of $$$ economic activity.
    Parting Recommendation: Those of us in the geospatial community need to get involved with Privacy professionals and contribute to this national conversation about UAS and geospatial. These two groups are not talking with each other. Privacy professionals don’t understand geospatial. Geospatial professionals don’t understand “privacy”. To prevent MIS-regulation of UAS, this conversation must occur and must be based on fact and an understanding of the complexities of geospatial data AND privacy issues.
  • For more information:
    Visit our “resources” page specifically for this talk at
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  • The Rise of the Machines - ASPRS Fall 2013 - Presented by Mike Tully

    1. 1. The Rise of the Machines UAS Implications for Remote Sensing and National Policy Mike Tully President & CEO Aerial Services, Inc. Iowa
    2. 2. Today’s EMS UAS Olaeris AEVA
    3. 3. Right to Privacy We the People 4th Amendment: The right of the people 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. seizures, shall not be violated.
    4. 4. Location, Location, Location Garmin GPS Tracking, $300
    5. 5. Orthophotography Lat/Long with each pixel
    6. 6. Privacy versus Right to Know
    7. 7. The Internet
    8. 8. Flying Swarms
    9. 9. Think Small
    10. 10. Think Highly Automated
    11. 11. Think Capable
    12. 12. Think Big! with mind boggling specializations and capabilities
    13. 13. Think Applications
    14. 14. Flying, Mapping Robots
    15. 15. Summary Be heard! Get involved.
    16. 16. More Info Parts 1 & 2 of “Rise of the Machines” & Much more @AerialServices @Tullymike