2022 Monterey Bay DART Symposium Reaches New Heights

Monterey Bay Drone Automation and Robotics Technology (DART) held a symposium at the University Center of California State University’s Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus, Nov 30 – Dec 1, 2022. Nearly 200 attendees enjoyed two days of compelling panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. This year’s event was rich with collaboration, connections, and vision for a more robust and inclusive future.

Attendees heard from industry leaders, legislators, educators, and philanthropists on topics like:

  • Air taxis to logistics: what’s new in Advanced Air Mobility
  • Building an advanced aviation workforce
  • Enabling Innovation: Ecosystems, Districts & Facilities
  • Agriculture & Utilities Innovation & Economic Opportunity
  •  Innovation thru Inclusive Economic Development

“The Monterey Bay DART team is so grateful to our speakers, sponsors, and attendees,” said Joshua Metz, Executive Director and Co-founder of Monterey Bay DART. “These events are key to bringing the right people together to build the foundation for a stronger, more inclusive economy that leverages these budding technologies.”

Event videos and copies of presentations are available HERE. To sign up for the DART mailing list for occasional updates on drones, automation, and robotics technology, please click HERE.

Our Sponsors and Partners

Central Coast Flight Information Xchange

The CITRIS Institute for Drone education and Research (CIDER) at the University of California at Santa Cruz, in partnership with Monterey Bay Drone Automation and Robotics Technologies (DART), Airspace Integration, and ATA LLC, is developing the Central Coast Flight Information Exchange (CC-FIX). CC-FIX is a risk-based, federated approach to creating an “aeronautical information service-like” capability for the integration of Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) into the airspace with the continued commitment to keep the airspace open, secure, and safe.  This coalition believes that a functional CC-FIX will accelerate UAS and AAM related R&D, providing significant economic development opportunities for Central California and communities across the state. 

The Central Coast Flight Information Exchange (CC-FIX) integrates federal laws and regulations, state and local advisories, public safety advisories, environmental sensors, weather sensors, data feeds, operations platforms, surveillance technologies and ground hazards (i.e. towers, buildings, population centers, etc.) through a public platform. Rather than needing to go to multiple places to access this important data, every person using a flight planning application that has a relationship with one of the participating approved UAS Service Suppliers will see CC-FIX data in their flight planning or control software or through the CC-FIX public website.  That brings all this critical information together making it available in one place.  If you ask any operator, especially in the public safety community, this is a huge leap forward in the communications and coordination needed to ensure that we take full advantage of the opportunities created by AAM and to integrate with the national airspace system safely.

FAA Airspace Guidelines for UAS Operators

The speed with which the UAS and AAM industry is developing continues to surprise and is putting pressure on needed changes to the fundamentals of aviation management. The FAA recognizes this in both its UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Concept of Operations (ConOps) and through the UAS Data Exchange Low Altitude Approval Notification Capability (LAANC) program; both of which acknowledge that existing air traffic management models alone do not adequately address the challenge of integrating UAS and other AAM transportation modalities into the national airspace. We’ve discovered through our current work that the best way to realize the infrastructure needed is to do it in a collaborative manner, working public-private partnerships across the industry and encouraging the creation of new relationships.  This way we can actually get to UAS and AAM operations at scale much more quickly in a more cost-effective and resilient manner. 

CC-FIX Data Model

CC-FIX allows for multiple ways to connect and share information, including web-based and programmatic alternatives. The system is intentionally designed to leverage current standards, open-source technologies, and existing background intellectual property to keep costs low. As a robust, cloud-based service, the technology underlying CC-FIX can quickly meet growing statewide and national demand. The intuitive user interface requires only a brief orientation during new user onboarding. CC-FIX is consistent with the FAA’s vision of a “community-based” system of industry, federal, and state and local governments cooperating to manage the anticipated heavy volumes of UAS traffic at low altitudes. CC-FIX sits at the center of this ecosystem enabling USS and commercial UTM providers to consume and share authoritative state data as a public service.

URL for the Central Coast Flight Information Exchange (CC-FIX): http://cc-fix.com/

Coalition Partner Contacts:

University of California – Santa Cruz
Michael Matkin
Assistant Director
CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
Baskin School of Engineering
(831) 459-4464

Monterey Bay DART
Josh Metz, Executive Director
(831) 264-8299

Airspace Integration
Chris Bley, CEO
(831) 428-6655

Scott Drew, UAS Project Manager
(804) 814-8148

UAS Workforce Opportunities in Forestry

The fields of drones (Uncrewed Aerial Systems, UAS), automated systems, and robotics technologies (DART) have rapidly advanced over the past decade yielding new tools for environmental management and a broad array of other applications. These technological innovations are the result of both public and private research & development investment, and represent emerging markets for future workforce engagement. Over this same time period we have experienced increasingly frequent occurrences of climate driven catastrophes such as wildfire, drought and floods. As a result, there is real urgency to conceive of novel solutions to these environmental challenges. The hope is that drones and related technologies of remote sensing and spatial analysis can be part of those solutions, while providing value through generating future workforce opportunities.

Data collected by drones can be applied to a variety of environmental management fields including agriculture, environmental conservation, timber management, watershed management, climate change monitoring, disturbance mitigation, wildland management, fire management, and urban-wildland interface management among many others.  Imagery data captured by drones for the purposes of land management and ecosystem monitoring can be used to evaluate ecosystem health under stress (Daly 2019), track and monitor wildlife (Prosekov et al 2020), pest outbreaks and disease spread (Filho et al 2020), ecosystem regeneration after disturbance, shifts in ecosystem after disturbance (Jiménez et al 2019), and monitor fires (Aydin et al 2019, Afghah et al 2019) among many other applications.  

As drones become indispensable tools for land management, with the capabilities of drones to collect high frequency, high resolution data on a variety of spatial and temporal scales.  We recognize that a critical priority for California is to have a workforce ready and able to support the innovation, manufacturing, and application of drones across a wide variety of industries.

With an eye towards informing workforce developers, educators and policy-makers focused on meeting the urgent need for a future focused forest management workforce, this paper provides:

  • an overview of drone-related investment trends and technology education opportunities in California;
  • an analysis of drone and forestry-related wage and hiring trends to paint a picture of recent market demand for drone and drone-related skills;
  • Calls out the imperative to design and build a modern workforce that takes advantage of the inherent strength of our States rich cultural diversity; and
  • contemplates a characterization of drone and forestry related career pathways.

Recognizing the inherent limitations of projecting emerging technology skill demands based on backward looking datasets, this paper also highlights innovative companies pushing the envelope towards next generation drone-based forest land management applications. Finally, we characterize the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM workforce, and present the case for explicit action to ensure the emerging drone and forestry related hiring makes room for a workforce reflective of the rich, cultural diversity of the State of California.