Corvallis drone company helps with whale study

DSC06598CORVALLIS, Ore. — A Corvallis company supplied and piloted aerial drones used in a first-of-its-kind whale study in the East Canadian Arctic this summer.

Complier Enterprise was part of a University of British Columbia research team that captured high-quality images and videos of bowhead whales during their summer feeding period in Cumberland Sound, reported the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

“We are one of those pioneers in the drone industry,” said Brian Whiteside, chief operating officer of Complier and a former Navy fighter pilot.

The company doesn’t manufacture drones but supplies software and services for the devices. That includes training for new pilots and a smart phone application, with regular updates, that ensures drones are operating legally and not in a no-fly zones, for example.

Both the industry and the rules regarding drones are evolving fast, Whiteside said.

He added that the future is robotics, and that means driverless cars, trucks, planes and more.

“If you’re not prepping for this future, you’re going to get left behind,” Whiteside said. “I’ve got a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, and by the time they turn 16, there will be driverless cars on the road.”

What’s more, someday soon, these driverless vehicles will be seen as safer than automobiles with humans behind the wheel.

Tommy Seitz, director of operations for Complier, actually flew the drone during the month-long whale study. “I was operating this from a small boat in the middle of the ocean,” he said. And at times, the drones were as far as 7,000 feet away from Seitz.

The bowhead whale is the longest-living marine mammal in the world, according to a UBC news release.

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