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Founder of Blackboard and SocialRadar appointed as a new CEO of PrecisionHawk

Drone mapping industry is growing incredibly fast, and it is here to stay. It’s not one of the tech bubbles. It solves many important problems related to the lack of accurate data and value of the market for drone-based services is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar business.

That sort of potential and growth dynamics require a great leadership and the industry is already attracting top talents and leaders. This week PrecisionHawk announced that Michael Chasen had been appointed as the company’s new CEO.

Chasen is an entrepreneur and technology veteran with more than 20 years of software experience. He is a co-founder of educational platform Blackboard, which he took public in 2004 and eventually sold for $1.7 billion. Within the next few weeks, he founded his another business called SocialRadar which was a geo-location startup that used satellite and street-level imagery to determine the exact location of points of interests. Last year he sold it to Verizon (the owner of MapQuest) and he immediately got a call from PrecisionHawk.

PrecisionHawk is one of the leading players in the drone mapping industry. The company offers its fixed wing UAV and a full software solution to collect automatically, process and analyze areal images. On the top of it, PrecisionHawk plays a significant role in shaping regulations and policies around drones, and it developed a custom drone safety platform LATAS. Today the company has about 165 employees, 50% up in the last year, so the new leadership comes just in time to structure this growth.

“Adoption of drone technology among major industries is growing at an incredible rate. By engineering an ecosystem that allows companies to gain valuable information, PrecisionHawk is at the forefront of one of the most important areas of technology innovation,” said Chasen. “The PrecisionHawk team has all of the building blocks that are required to become the world leader in commercial drone technology, and I am looking forward to the growth and immense opportunity ahead.”

Congrats and good luck!

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Tesla will get ‘Fully Self-driving Capability’ in 3-6 months

Elon Musk has never been the one to shy away from making bold claims and pushing the boundary of what is possible, while other Car manufacturers like Nissan are still wondering whether to use call-centres to operate Self-Driving cars under certain conditions, Elon Musk thinks Tesla’s cars will get “Fully Self-Driving Capabilities” within the next 3-6 months.

Levels of Driving Automation

“Fully Self-Driving Capabilities” is an unambiguous term and what Musk is referring to might be the related to his earlier statement about dispatching a Tesla on a fully autonomous “American road trip” from Los Angeles to New York by the end of this year. A road trip that many consider is closer to Level 4 driving automation than fully autonomous driving capabilities i.e. the ability to drive wherever, whenever, whatever the weather without any fallback or assistance by humans.

What do the different levels of driving automation actually refer to? Here’s an handy chart from the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Image provided by SAE International and J3016

The timeline might sound a bit hurried and unrealistic but Tesla has been pushing the boundary when it comes to Driving Automation and if there is one company that seems poised to be the leader in Self-Driving cars, it certainly is them. The LA to NYC road trip might after all happen sooner than we expect!

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