Is the Operator Doomed by Automation?



As the unmanned industry continues its rapid growth and expansion the repeated theme we all continue to hear is one of automation. Auto-Inspection, Auto-Delivery, Auto-Patrol, ECT. So where will this leave humans, namely the operators themselves? My opinion is that the operator job will continue to exist over the next 20 years and will continue to exist indefinitely for the future large size drones that I’m sure we will see appear within the next 20 years. For the sake of this brief article however, we are focusing on sUAS, or drones that weigh less than 55 LBS. While I do not expect the role of the operator to disappear within the next two decades, I think the role the operator plays will change significantly. It’s not that drones are incapable of operating under fully automated means, many already do and new technology is improving this ability on a near daily basis, but the one thing I believe will keep the operator employed is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). The FAA is notoriously cautious when regarding the operation of aircraft, and that is one of their best traits. Despite the advances in technology and the capability of drones operating under fully automated flight, I find it hard to believe the FAA is going to let the operator take their hands off the controls anytime soon; if there is one thing they love, its redundancy in safety. In the coming years I expect that in most industries the Sensor Operator position will cease to exist, and that the Pilot position will become one of monitoring an automated drone, either on-site or remotely, and staying ready to intervene in-case of trouble. For those who are considering a career in the drone industry I highly recommend that you obtain an Engineering Degree or become certified in manned aircraft. Doing both of these things would make you highly competitive with a great deal of job security in the drone industry. What is your opinion? Let us know by contacting us at www.mydroneconnection.com


Marcus Rubright