Stephen Myers Photography by Mila Bridger
In the wealth of brilliant minds and skilled hands in Southwest Florida, a select few are taking things a step outside the box. We sought out the individuals who have set themselves apart through compelling innovation and the courage to think toward the future in a big way.
We’ve all heard about Amazon’s plans for “delivery by drone,” but the future for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is infinitely bigger. Stephen Myers is pushing Florida to the forefront.
“I think that the commercial (nonmilitary) use of UAVs right now is where the personal computer use was in the mid- to late ’80s,” Myers says. “It’s that big of an evolution.”
Twenty-seven years after founding a computer system integration company, the Naples native is applying his experience creating customized solutions to a burgeoning industry with his consulting company Angel Eyes UAV.
Any situation too dull, dirty or dangerous for manned aircraft now has a potential solution: delivery of humanitarian aid, oil spill containment, search and rescue, monitoring of animal populations, roof inspection, power line and pipeline inspection, bridge inspection.
“I don’t think that you can be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand and say it’s not going to happen,” Myers says.
But our technology is surpassing our laws. As of today, it is illegal to fly a UAV for profit in the United States, with exceptions including research, hobby and certificates of authorization. Angel Eyes UAV currently provides precision agriculture and public safety services in California, Arkansasand the Philippines, operating within Myers’ niche as a commercially rated pilot.
Florida was not among the six test sites recently announced for integration of UAVs into the national airspace system, but Myers assures us the state is “not rolling over and playing dead.” As a board member of the AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) Florida Peninsula chapter, he is working closely with state leadership, NASA and Space Florida to proceed with testing and draft responsible legislation as early as this year. He is confident that within our lifetime every household will have a UAV.
Still a naysayer? Myers reminds you that those who said, “Don’t look at it!” about the laser are now saying, “It gave me perfect vision.”