The first UVS Oman

The first annual Unmanned Vehicle Systems Oman recently finished in Muscat and was by all counts a success. It was a small but potent conference (which is an important combo for ambitious firsts), the hosting was quite exemplary, the space (the campus of Sultan Qaboos University) exquisite, and the talks were a wonderful stretch for me both into areas I don’t think much about, like controller design for unmanned vehicles (though I love that others think about this a lot) and things that I think about too much (for my pay grade anyway) like legal frameworks for commercial drone use.

The campus and country feel calm, the conference had it’s manic moments but was classy and warm, and I got the chance to spend some time with and attend the workshop of my sister and colleague Khadija Abdula Ali. She is one of the famed pilots of the world renowned Zanzibar Mapping Initiative and a rising star in the drone mapping world.

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I did a workshop myself on OpenDroneMap, and was honored to do the keynote on the second day with the title FWIW (For what it’s worth): The value of open data, open hardware, and free and open source software to the Unmanned Vehicle Ecosystem.

Now, truth be told, I owe Paul Ramsey a bit of debt for his overview of Yochai Benkler’s term Commons-based peer production as it relates to open source. To this effect, I spoke about I painted, a reddit dialog via painting that illustrates the strange things that happen at the edges of network effects. These strange things include Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, and Free and Open Source Software. And, I asserted, free and open source software is and should be a critical keystone in the unmanned vehicle systems ecosystem.

In short, it was a wonderful, if all too short week. I hope to get back to Oman soon.

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