One of the biggest names in the world of “Drones for Good” is leaving his role. Romeo Durscher, who most recently served as Senior Director of Public Safety Integration, is leaving DJI after six years with the company.
Durscher joined the company in January 2015 as Director of Education, and since moved around in various roles involving drones for public safety. His last day at the company will be Friday.
“The past 6 years here at DJI have been incredible and I have truly been able to do amazing work, go on life changing adventures and be part of a big global change,” Durscher said in an email to The Drone Girl. “It was not an easy decision but one that I needed.”
Durscher said he will likely stay in robotics and public safety — but he plans on taking some much-needed time off.
Durscher took his biggest step into the drone world in November 2014, when he decided to leave his career in solar science — having worked on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory team at Stanford University for the past almost 13 years — into the world of drones. But Durscher wasn’t completely new to drones. He had been involved with DJI as early a 2014 in helping with product testing, feedback and drone use evangelism.
Since then, he has grown into a positive voice for the drone industry. He’s presented at 97 conferences, symposiums and workshops (30 of which were keynotes). He’s traveled to 33 countries and 143 cities. He’s worked closely with not just experts in drones, but experts in public safety such as fire departments and natural disaster first responders.
Among his work has been coordinating drone use for search and rescue efforts. The use case has been among the most valuable purposes of drones; in fact, drones are believed to be 80% faster in search and rescue missions than traditional methods, according to research done by DJI in conjunction with the European Emergency Number Association.
And while he’s an evangelist for drones, he’s also advocated for times not to use drones, such as the case when COVID-19 opened up many new potential uses for drones (both helpful but some also unhelpful).
“If drones are unlikely to add value in the way that you had hoped (at least for the time being), then accept this,” according to a memo coordinated by Durscher. “Leave the drones aside and ask if you can help in any other way.”
He’s helped on a Mythbusters episode, and on segments for Good Morning America.
And on a personal note, I’ve enjoyed running into Durscher everywhere from the DJI Phantom 4 launch — monumental for its two front obstacle sensors combining with advanced computer vision and processing to give the Phantom its “Obstacle Avoidance” feature — to SkyPixel gallery shows, where his work has been featured. The drone world is not just all work and robots; it’s actually a small community, and Durscher embodies that, making the world of drones a welcoming place for newbies, pros and everyone in between.
Romeo Durscher is also still set to present at the InterDrone virtual conference next week, but will be representing himself, rather than DJI, as a ‘UAS in Public Safety Evangelist.’
This isn’t the only big departure at DJI of late. Earlier this month, DJI Director Of Business Development Cynthia Huang said she was leaving the company after nearly three years in the job to take on a new role as Vice President of Enterprise Business Development at Auterion. Huang was instrumental in building up the use of drones within the oil and gas industry, including developing a partnership between DJI and Shell Oil Company.