Drone operators with military background want to boost commercial drone market

There’s a new drone startup in town — Flyspan Systems, a consulting group made up of some of the most well-connected drone operators out there.

The Irvine, Calif.-based consulting agency is made up of a balanced team of seven engineers, business strategies and drone industry experts. Founder Brock Christoval specializes in aircraft systems engineering, while co-founder Vinny Capobianco is more on the mechanical engineering end of things.

And where did they get their experience from? They worked for the United States Department of Defense working on – you guessed it – drones.

“We’re from the military side, but everything is just peeking its way into the commercial market,” Capobianco said.

They won’t say just what their involvement in military drone use was, but they have a passion for doing everything possible to develop the commercial drone market.

That’s not to say their involvement was strictly military.

“I come from a unique government background,” Christoval said. “I worked more on the experimental side.”

And the commercial drone market is far-flung from any government drone operations, they say.

“Everybody and their grandma is building these things,” Christoval said.

“We’re looking to pair up with fire departments, law enforcement, agriculture, oil — anyone who can use this in their markets,” Capobianco said. “Our belief is that companies are going to ask the question, “‘How can we use unmanned systems?’ or ‘How can we use this technology across our businesses with a profit?’ That’s where we come in.”

Their startup’s core is integrating unmanned systems into existing organizations with a focus on data analytics.

“We’re also working with universities to partner with them on the research side,” Christoval said.

And since they’re a California-based company, the founders said they believe drones will have a particular impact on the state’s economy.

“Specifically with California’s drought problem, that leads to wildfires, irrigation problems, and we’re faced with other natural disasters like earthquakes,” Christoval said. “People are responding to situations where someone is trapped or has gone out too far. It’s the first-responder situations where people aren’t easily accessible.”

But those are the areas more easily serviced by UAVs.

“We’ve already started to see this right now,” he said. “As far as economic impact, California is really in the best position for the commercial use of drones.”

The consulting agency doesn’t limit themselves to just aerial drones.

“Anything autonomous, that’s our market,” Capobianco said. “We have experts that work underwater, collaborating between multiple aerial vehicles at once.”

At the heart of their business? A love for the challenge and possibility of a future filled with drones.

“I’m passionate about the aircraft industry,” Christoval said. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart. We want to go off and work with agriculture and non-profits too. I think those market verticals have a lot of opportunity in the unmanned space because they don’t necessarily already have a team of engineers to tackle their questions.”

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