Article was originally published on insidedefense.com by Marjorie Censer on July 9th, 2021

Will Roper, the former Air Force acquisition chief who is now chief executive of commercial drone company Volansi, told Inside Defense working with the military is a way for the company to advance its technology.

In an interview Thursday, Roper said he was drawn to the job because he sees Volansi, which is backed by venture capital, as ready to transition from simply being a research and development organization.

“The company’s ambition and trajectory is commercial delivery,” he said.

However, Roper noted that effort will require coordination with civilian regulators. Working with the military, he added, could help the company prove out its technology before approaching the Federal Aviation Administration or other agencies.

“My hope is . . . that we can work with the military to de-risk the technology,” he said. That way, when the company meets with regulators, “we’re going with significant data and a track record for safety.”

Roper said the company’s drone-based approach to logistics could apply to the battlefield.

Still, he said Volansi is “not a defense company.”

“We’re a commercial company that wants to work with defense,” Roper said.