The People Behind PrecisionHawk: Ricky Hopper
At PrecisionHawk, we’re pioneering drone technology for the commercial sector. It’s made possible by our people.
Ricky Hopper joined PrecisionHawk in March 2016 and has worked on developing PrecisionFlight since the app’s inception. Now, he works as the Technical Lead of the PrecisionFlight Mobile Application Team. At PrecisionHawk, Ricky helps “bridge the gap” between users and ever-evolving drone technology.
What drives me is the opportunity to build something that impacts a lot of people. I get to work with a great team and we get to contribute to something that people are using and is providing real value in the world.
Before working at PrecisionHawk, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
There was a time when I sold things for people on eBay. I would photograph their products, make the listing, and take a commission on the sale. I ended up getting a lot of really strange items to sell. For example, there was a collection of creepy porcelain dolls.
How has PrecisionHawk helped you in your professional development?
It has given me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, like being involved with a project early and getting to grow it, build a team around it, and build it into a full solution. It was cool to see that build up over time and watch people work together and bring in their creative solutions. I’ve also learned how to solve a lot of problems that I never got to solve in school or in my engineering work before.
If you could describe PrecisionHawk in one word what would it be?
I would probably say “frontier” because there are a lot of opportunities that we can go after, but we have to find the right way to go after them. We have a lot of people with different perspectives and creative solutions who are helping us get there.
What’s your favorite project you’re working on?
PrecisionFlight. Some people might feel overwhelmed by what’s required to properly fly a drone to capture imagery for commercial purposes. With PrecisionFlight, we bridge that gap with our software. In a recent overhaul of the app, we made it easier to plan flights and introduced some new flight modes to allow for better 3D modeling. We’re working on a few more things to even more intelligently capture data as well.
How do you see drone technology evolving over the next five years?
Its ubiquity. We’re already seeing drones monitor construction, fly over farm fields, and do inspections. But, there are many jobs where people encounter risk of harm. Soon, many of those workers can use a drone to avoid those hazards. Changes in regulations will be key in making that possible.
What are the biggest challenges you encounter in working on PrecisionFlight?
PrecisionFlight is an automated data collection app that uses a drone to help people solve problems. When a lot of people collect data, they’re not really sure what they need from that flight, so the biggest challenge is making the intelligence that we’ve been gathering over the years into an app that people can use without having to know or learn about GIS or remote sensing.
It can also be difficult to keep up with the way that the technology is evolving. Advances in drone and sensor hardware are constant, and often require us to change our software to realize their full potential.
If you could give your 21-year-old-self advice, what would it be?
Try out as many different things as possible. Get exposure to as many different types of work or hobbies. For most people, when they’re 21 and in college, they’re being told to focus or “pick a path.” That’s limiting. Just remain open and keep trying new things.
If you could choose anyone to be your mentor, who would it be?
Elon Musk. At PrecisionHawk you’re exploring the frontier of technology. You’re learning about it, immersing yourself in it, and doing everything you can to make it happen. Musk does that well.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
When you create something, you’re not just making “a thing,” you’re creating an experience. You have to think about how people are going to interact with what you create and how it’s going to impact their lives.
With a passion for creative solutions and bridging the gap between drones and users, Ricky has helped shape what PrecisionFlight is today, and we’re glad to have him as part of our team.
If you’re interested in joining the PrecisionHawk team, you can view all of our open opportunities here.