New venture

A screenshot from my 'BlueLightCamp Taster' video
A screenshot from my ‘BlueLightCamp Taster’ video

My name is Simon Orr. After a 32 year career in the Royal Marines I have started a new venture in film making.  This is on the back of my experiences of 2 ½ years working in TV for the Navy’s PR team in London. Alongside setting up a production company, I decided to develop an aerial filming capability using small UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). 

I had been watching the development of flight systems for small rotor driven aircraft to the point where the complicated systems required to control a multirotor platform had become both reliable and affordable.  After a procurement and training process that lasted nearly 7 months I was awarded my permissions for aerial work by the CAA, back in December.

Air of Mystery

What should we call these machines?  ‘Drones’ is an easy word to remember, it also trips off the tongue and engenders an air of mystery.  It is also an incorrect term, as Drones are autonomous or controlled by a computer. 

Although one of the two airframes that I operate has this capability, it is not something that I use… yet.  The vast majority of the aircraft that most refer to as Drones are actually controlled by what the industry calls a Remote Pilot, or ‘RP’ for short. 

Carrying a full load of camera equipment
Carrying a full load of camera equipment

Part of the problem that the industry has with trying to get away from the slightly negative title of Drone, is that there are so many other names for these very capable machines:

  • Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Small Unmanned Air Vehicles (SUAVs)
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs)
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)
  • Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)
  • Small Unmanned Aerial System (SUAS)
  • Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA)

New acronyms appear, seemingly on a daily basis.

Opportunity or threat?

In an effort to stimulate debate on the day I have supplied some links to some films on YouTube.  There are literally thousands of clips out there but these are some of the more interesting ones.  For balance I have included a couple of negative ones.

Opportunity Threat
Raffaello D’Andrea: The astounding athletic power of quadcopters Drone Crashes Into Crowd | HPL
Vijay Kumar: Robots that fly … and cooperate Small Drone Crashes Into New York City Sidewalk

Pragmatic and Progressive

I consider myself lucky to be operating from the UK as our American cousins have been grounded by the FAA (US CAA equivalent) until such time as they have specific laws relating to the use of UAVs in place. Here in the UK, the CAA is taking a much more pragmatic and progressive approach by working with the industry to help it grow and evolve.

The First FAA Prosecution of a Civilian Drone UAV is an interesting test case in the US, the subject is perhaps the UAV world’s equivalent of Banksy.

Whetting your appetite

Finally, to whet your appetite, I have very quickly cobbled together some stock footage of the two aircraft that I will be bringing along to BluelightCamp.  Weather permitting, I will be flying at this event.

I look forward to meeting you all and having a stimulating debate… no doubt.

BlueLightCamp – The Drones are coming!
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2 thoughts on “BlueLightCamp – The Drones are coming!

  • May 7, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Sounds very interesting and more of an opportunity than a threat. Notwithstanding the limitations of range and weather conditions – these devices could have great potential for search and rescue operations. Possibly better suited to open moorland than high mountain terrain but nonetheless, the ability to make an initial visual check over a wide area could save valuable time in the critical early stages and enable limited numbers of people to be deployed much more effectively.

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