Pushbutton UAS Software For Business

Stuart Rudolph wants to help the UAS industry mature by providing a software solution to businesses that enables them to integrate unmanned aircraft into their operations in a safe, efficient and responsible manner.
By Patrick C. Miller | December 10, 2015

Tell me that I have to find the proper form, fill it out and either mail it in or deliver it to a specific person, and I’ll usually find a way to put it off as long as possible. But if I can do the same thing online using a web browser and then hit the submit button, I’m far more likely to accomplish the task in a timely manner.

In the process of developing VirtualAirBoss (VAB) software for UAS business operations, Stuart Rudolph, president and CEO of SmartC2, discovered that manned aircraft pilots are different from unmanned aircraft in an important respect: Manned aircraft pilots are accustomed to procedures and filling out paperwork. Many UAS pilots prefer to minimize any impediment between them and flying.

As Rudolph walked me through the steps of scheduling a UAS flight using the web-based VAB, I immediately understood the attraction. Not only did it simplify the process of planning flights, but it also helps keep commercial UAS flights in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations while creating records of costs, maintenance and where data is stored for quick retrieval. In addition, it briefs UAS pilots before they fly on such critical information as NOTAMs (notices to the airmen) and temporary flight restrictions.

“It’s a system that’s sophisticated yet simple,” Rudolph explains. “You press a button, it schedules your aircraft and provides you with the information you need to have in order to manage both FAA compliance and your internal policies. You have transparency and accountability with the FAA while collecting the data as they want to see it.”

The years Rudolph has spent developing and modifying VAB to meet the needs of business gives him an understanding of what people should know about UAS before integrating them into a commercial operation. To that end, his company recently published a white paper titled “7 Key Considerations Before Taking Your Drone Operation to the Sky.”

While the 10-page document is intended to steer interested businesses toward VAB, its primary purpose is to help answer UAS-related questions about compliance, accountability, reporting, risk mitigation, data management, operational management and integration.

“There is a serious need for corporations to understand that they can fly safe and compliantly,” Rudolph said. ”We can help the marketplace by helping them understand how to fly unmanned aircraft and implement them into their organization.”

Another advantage of using VAB is that it can be customized to follow the internal policies and decision-making protocols of the businesses using the program.

“This is a best practices workflow that’s embedded in the software,” said Janet Ahlgren, SmartC2 COO. “It standardizes the process, especially if you’re flying the same type of mission over and over again, such as inspections. It shows trends over time and enables you to compare one group of data with another.”

Rudolph sees VAB as a product that will help the UAS industry mature by enabling businesses to integrate unmanned aircraft into their operations in a safe, efficient and responsible manner.

“Large corporations understand the legalities of it and what’s necessary to protect themselves,” he said. “So they understand that using UAS is complicated, but they also understand that it’s going to save lives, it’s going to save them time and it’s going to be a lot less expensive.”