In the fifth of a series of interviews with key figures involved in the success of Drone World Expo, we talked to Adi Singh, Principal Scientist, UAV Systems, Research & Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company. Adi leads strategic innovations in drone technology and established Ford’s research program on drones, developing a roadmap for product development initiatives.
He established the company research center in Palo Alto as an FAA designated UAV Operating Area (UAO) and is a Member of the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). He is also FAA licensed sUAS Pilot-in-Command.
What was your first professional encounter with UAS ?
In the summer of 2014 while I was interning at Ford. A colleague had found a drone crashed in his backyard and brought it to the office. A bunch of us decided to fix it up and fly.
What do you do with your FAA sUAS Pilot’s License ?
Supervise flights at Ford’s Research & Innovation Center in Palo Alto. My lab’s research often includes flying prototypes, and having a couple of Part 107 pilots on the team gives our operations due diligence.
We know that the Ford Motor Company makes car – what is their interest in UAVs ? Will we be seeing a Ford UAV in the skies ?
Ford has expanded its business interests beyond cars to general mobility. If a technology concerns transportation of goods, people and services, we want to explore it; UAVs being one such field. UAVs will stand to play an integral role in Ford’s vision of the City of Tomorrow. It is not beyond the realm of possibility to see a Ford UAV in the sky, whether it be a little drone delivering a package in the near future, or a flying car transporting a person down the line.
What is your role on the FAA Rulemaking Committee ?
The proceedings of the ARC are still confidential until our recommendation report is revealed. But my role is to provide the FAA with recommendations on technologies and standards it can adopt to identify and track sUAS operating in US airspace. This involves generating consensus across industry and government stakeholders on solutions, criteria and policy that should be considered while making the selection. Specifically, since Ford is the only car company to sit on the ARC, my representation speaks for the automotive industry.
Why did you decide to get involved in Drone World Expo ?
Technology does not exist in a silo. To create revolutionary products, one needs to have an intimate understanding of the policy and industry landscape, and the foresight to predict how this landscape will shape. Drone World Expo is one such avenue -a pretty influential one at that- to gain insights into the present and the future of drone industry. Thru my involvement, I’d like to play my part in contributing to the discussion within the wider community.