Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The future of drones: Jacobs School alums weigh in

When Radley Angelo, class of 2015, spent weekends building and flying RC planes and helicopters with his dad and brothers, he never thought he was already building a foundation for his professional life. Angelo went on to become the CEO of Spark Aerial, a systems integration company that focuses on aerial robotics--meaning drones.

His path from freshman at the Jacobs School to CEO is documented in the latest issue of Triton Magazine, the university's alumni publication, in a story titled "Life Among the Drones."

During his time at UC San Diego, Angelo joined Engineers for Exploration, an organization designed to bring cutting-edge technology to the fields of archaeology and exploration. E4E, as it is also known, is led by Jacobs School alum Albert Lin and computer science professor Ryan Kastner. Members investigate digs anywhere from Lake Tahoe, to the jungles of Guatemala, to Mongolia.

Lin needed someone to drive the $20,000 drones he was using to try and find the tomb of Genghis Khan.  He recalls is the Triton story:
We were in a very remote location and had really great access to satellite imagery, but I wanted to be able to get a bird’s-eye view in areas that were more tree covered,” says Lin. “I found Radley, who was really into remote control helicopters, and took him with me.”
 The story also includes a section about the effort of Jacobs School alumnus Jay Guan to improve FAA regulations for drones. He says:

“On the surface, it seems like the FAA is a little squeamish about this,” says Guan. “But from what I’ve seen, the FAA doesn’t have anything against drones or commercial drones. It’s just that safety has always been an overriding concern, and right now there is no good way to ensure that drone operations won’t compromise that.”

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