Brian Wynne is the president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing unmanned systems. A private pilot with experience in intelligent transportation, he joined AUVSI at the end of 2014.
Q: What would you like to see the FAA choose as its next task after finishing the rule?
A: There’s extended line of sight, which might be just over the horizon or around the corner of a bridge or something like that. Beyond line of sight is more aggressive than that—and we want to consider that. It’s going to be very important that we get to a level of fidelity where we can fly in urban areas and over people.
Q: During testimony to Congress you suggested a more coordinated approach to government/industry research. What form should that coordination take?
A: First we want to make certain the research being done in different government agencies is coordinated. There’s work going on that’s FAA sponsored.
There’s work going on that’s being directed by NASA. DOD, obviously, has been playing in this game for some time. So we’ve called for an audit of all those things so everybody knows what everybody else is doing.
The second thing is the industry is bringing technology solutions to the table. The government’s really got to say ‘Here are the points that we need clarified, that we need proven to meet a certain performance test from the standpoint of safety.’ If they don’t direct that research and they don’t direct industry, I don’t think we’re going to get to the objectives as quickly as we all want to.
Q: The primary buyers of unmanned systems used to be military officials, scientists and hobbyists. Now there is an emerging class of commercial operators served by an equally entrepreneurial class of hardware and software manufacturers. How do you see AUVSI changing as the industry changes?
A: We’re already the leading trade group for unmanned systems and have been supporting the community for 43 years. But you’re right, there are more and more companies coming to the fore with technologies and solutions that will serve commercial interests—and so we’re growing in that particular area.
Q: What role do you see AUVSI playing as the unmanned industry grapples with liability and insurance challenges?
A: We’re going to be in the forefront of this for our members. We’ve already started developing a relationship with a broker so our members, much like in other associations, can benefit from a larger pool and hopefully better prices for both hull as well as liability insurance.