Recently the FAA announced proposed regulations for the use of drones in commercial settings.Overall, the regulations represent a positive step for the industry. The major limitation that’s been thrust to the fore is the line of sight requirement: the proposal mandates that every vehicle flown has a dedicated operator within line of sight at all times.
The basic premise here is that you can’t trust a drone to do the right thing if you don’t have a person watching it. While this is conservative, with current technology it’s also justified. Currently available drones are entirely reliant on GPS for autonomous flight, and have no ability to sense and navigate their surroundings. This means they need to fly high above the nearest structures and/or have an expert pilot flying them at all times.
We believe visual navigation is the key to delivering true autonomy such that drones can be trusted to operate safely beyond line of sight and without the constant attention of an expert operator. It also of course makes in light of sight operation safer, more reliable, and more accessible.
With our prototype systems, we’ve already demonstrated vision-based navigation and obstacle avoidance. We look forward to putting this capability into end customers’ hands, and demonstrating that safe autonomous flight is possible.