The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews Hector Ubiñas


The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews  Hector Ubiñas
In the third of a series of interviews with key figures involved in the success of Drone World Expo, we talked to for Hector Ubiñas, Aviation Services Manager, San Diego Gas and Electric. Hector joined SDG&E in September 2016 and has been overseeing the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) program since starting with the company. In this role, Hector is responsible for the daily operations of the UAS program and continuing to develop new work methods for its application in the utility industry.

At what point in your career did you first become involved with UAS in a professional capacity? Was that during your period with the Navy?

My first involvement with UAS in a professional capacity came during my last tour of duty with the Navy. I was the Aviation Officer onboard the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) in charge of all aviation operations. Not only was the ship operating with the traditional complement of manned aircraft (helicopters), we also had organic UAS assets; Insitu’s Scan Eagle. Our deployment was the first time the ship had to operate with manned and unmanned aircraft simultaneously and I developed the operating procedures to safely integrate both within the ships control zone.

At that time, did you imagine that you might be working with UAS in a commercial capacity?

Not at all. My concept of UAS applications was limited to military operations. I did not realize nor appreciate the many benefits unmanned aircraft bring to the civilian commercial sectors.

Are there any experiences/lessons learned from your military experience that could be beneficial to commercial applications?

Of course. My experience integrating unmanned and manned operations in the maritime environment clearly crosses over to the commercial sector where a major safety concern is how to safely fly a drone amidst manned aircraft. Not only that, the time I spent as an instructor has proven extremely beneficial with developing and leading our internal training program which is helping the scale the UAS program across the enterprise.

Can you tell us about how the UAS Program works at SDG&E?

The UAS Program is housed within our Aviation Services Department where we provide program management and oversight to ensure safe operations. We have a hybrid business model where we use internal and contracted RPICs to conduct work with unmanned aircraft. Drones are used for acquiring data for applications such as aerial assessments of structures to post construction surveys with a LiDAR sensor.

Do you have your own fleet and pilots or do you subcontract?

We have both. Our fleet consists of 15 drones that are mostly DJI Inspires, Phantoms, and Mavics. We have 5 trained RPICs and several more in the training program. Our internal operations are limited to applications that require pictures, videos, or thermal imagery. If a more robust UAS or sensor is required, then we reach out to the experts in the industry and subcontract them to conduct the work (like LiDAR acquisition).

Why did you choose to support Drone World Expo?

DWE is one of the leading commercial drone conferences in the nation and we were honored to be considered to participate in the expo. We recognize the valuable networking opportunity it provides along with the ability to see the latest technological advances the industry has to offer. We are excited to be a part of DWE and look forward to sharing and learning from the many other end users there.

FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar

FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar
A host of new users is changing the world of commercial aviation thanks in large part to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) small unmanned aircraft rule, Part 107 (PDF), which has now been in place for a year.

US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm

US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm
The U.S. Naval Research Lab has been working on its CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) drones since at least 2011. The tiny drones are designed to be carried aloft by other aircraft and dropped, whereupon they’ll use GPS and little fins to glide to within 15 feet of their destination.

Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills

Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills
Aerial dogfighting began more than a century ago in the skies over Europe with propeller-driven fighter aircraft carried aloft on wings of fabric and wood. An event held recently in southern California could mark the beginning of a new chapter in this form of aerial combat.

13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop

13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
The White House launched a new effort Tuesday to help increase the use of drones and showcased how government agencies have become a proving ground for a wide array of new drone concepts and technologies.

New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations

New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations
It may not seem like it, but drones are still in their infancy and only proving themselves through the rigorous testing done privately, commercially, and by state and federal government agencies. Despite the tangible benefits that drones can provide, the public has mixed sentiments about their use by law enforcement, firefighting, and search & rescue operations.

Drone World Expo  Exclusive Interviews  Mark Bathrick

Drone World Expo Exclusive Interviews Mark Bathrick
We wanted to find out more about the team behind Drone World Expo – what makes them tick, what motivates them and what are the secrets behind the success of the event. We interviewed Advisory Board member Mark L. Bathrick who directs a nationwide aviation services business for the U.S Department of the Interior (DOI) overseeing the safe operation of over 1,200 contracted and government-owned manned and unmanned aircraft across a wide range of business applications.

Rwanda Readies Life-Saving Drone Delivery System

Rwanda Readies Life-Saving Drone Delivery System
This summer, small autonomous airplanes will begin carrying life-saving blood to 20 hospitals and healthcare centers across Western Rwanda, Africa, in one of the first-of-its-kind drone-based delivery demonstrations.

Tree-Planting Drones

Tree-Planting Drones
Beaverton, Oregon-based drone startup DroneSeed created a drone with a device that fires seeds into the ground using compressed air in an effort to reforest the Pacific Northwest, and eventually forests around the world.

FAA Finalizes Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

FAA Finalizes Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the firstoperational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nations airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

Embry-Riddle Consumer Guide to sUAS for Novices

Embry-Riddle Consumer Guide to sUAS for Novices
A research team at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Worldwide Campus has created the first-ever comprehensive consumer guide to small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for novice users–those individuals interested in purchasing their first small remote controlled or autonomous multi-rotor flying aircraft.

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