- Information for:
- Future Students
- Current Students
- Employers & Industry Partners
- Alumni & Friends
- Faculty & Staff
"As companies reinvent themselves post COVID, people will be more open to new ideas." — Bob Johnson, 1980 Harbert College alumnus
Businesses will not recover as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, says 1980 Harbert College alum Bob Johnson. Instead, they must be re-invented. Johnson, Chief Drone Officer of Johnson Consulting and Advisory, LLC, in Atlanta, believes that society is becoming open to fresh ideas and unmanned aircraft systems fit the bill for transport, social distancing, contactless operations and public safety.
“Let’s remember that airplanes have been around for only 100-plus years,” said Johnson, who grew up in Albertville, Alabama, flying radio-controlled airplanes on a grass landing field. “First, it was the Wright Brothers, followed by propellers, then jets and now autonomous drones. The future of drones is education, FAA compliance, strategic partnerships, public acceptance and radical innovation.”
Johnson, who earned a degree in Business Administration, estimates the global drone economy will grow from $15 billion today to $90 billion by 2030. Use will continue to grow in the defense, public safety, and construction sectors, for example.
“The economic opportunities for drone technology are stupendous, but stakeholders must consider the tethers of FAA regulatory compliance, barriers of entry, and most of all, public acceptance,” Johnson said. “Privacy is a big concern. Who has aerial rights over your property? Is it federal, state or local? Does preemption take control? Drones are becoming ubiquitous and the public wants to know how this affects their legal limitations. Remember, the FAA has the final say.”
Johnson noted that email did not replace the U.S. Post Office, but electronic messages kicked communications into a new gear. Unmanned aircraft has the opportunity to take aerial data observations, security and deliveries to the same level.
“As companies reinvent themselves post COVID, people will be more open to new ideas,” he said. “Adoption is accelerating on a faster curve for federal, state, local and large enterprises with the use of UAS on a global scale. The FAA is relaxing regulations for drone delivery. Imagine the possibilities there.”
Delivery companies like UPS and Amazon might not always resort to trucks when making last-mile deliveries.
“And when we are able to fly beyond the line of sight of the person controlling the aircraft, we will be cooking with gas.”