On the heels of announcing that he was leaving his job as Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, Romeo Durscher has already joined a new company: Auterion. The former DJI leader will serve as Auterion’s new Vice
President of Public Safety. In his role as VP of Public Safety, Durscher will primarily be focused on helping first responders use drone systems with open source software.
Auterion is the largest open-source drone software platform in the world, providing enterprise and government users with an ecosystem of software-defined drones, payloads, and third party applications, designed for use within a single platform based on open-source standards. Its customers include GE Aviation, Quantum Systems, Freefly Systems, Avy, and the U.S. Government.
“The first time I heard the words ‘open-source, I had this vision of hundreds of people working in their basements, putting out code simply out of their own goodwill,” Durscher said in an interview with The Drone Girl. “On an enterprise level, it goes beyond that. Smaller teams, whether at Auterion or at other companies, can put together a solution that allows for better scaling up, or creates a solution quicker and faster. That can provide a lot in this still-new industry of drones.”
Durscher said the open-source use-case is especially relevant in first response and public safety (where his role is focused). Depending on each unique emergency event, a first responder might need a nimble, small Mavic Air for one project and a Matrice 600 with a thermal camera mounted to it for another.
“If you have different apps for all these different platforms that are not standardized, it’s a nightmare to train for all of their different standards,” he said.
Instead, an open-source solution would enable operators to control multiple drones from multiple manufacturers — all from one interface. Another open-source use-case? Better parsing through data.
“So much data comes back to the drone operator,” he said. “85% is unusable data, and we need just a piece of it to make it actionable. Now we can pick out the data pieces needed for that particular operation.”
Auterion currently has just over 60 employees spread across offices in California, Switzerland, and Germany (coincidentally, Durscher was born and raised in Switzerland).
Durscher joined DJI in January 2015 as Director of Education, and since moved around in various roles involving drones for public safety. Prior to joining DJI, he spent 12 years working on NASA’s Heliophysics Mission Solar Dynamics Observatory at Stanford University in California.
Durscher is not the first DJI leader to leave for Auterion in recent months. Just last December, now-former 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.
Auterion also announced another key hire last week, with news that Errol Farr, who spent nearly seven years in business development roles at AeroVironment, would join the team as Vice President Business Development for Auterion’s government business.