James Castle started his career in the defence and security industry over 20 years ago as an Emergency Manager in Ontario and was trained as an Incident Commander by the Toronto Police Service, Public Order Unit. While working in this industry, he came to realize the tremendous opportunity of how innovative technologies in drones, AI, and cybersecurity can improve the ways of saving lives.
Today, James is the CEO, president, and founder of Terranova Aerospace, a Canadian UAV/UAS (RPAS) service company. He was selected as a Vanguard Game Changer for the August/September 2019 issue. Here is the full interview with him.
What was your most challenging moment?
My most challenging moment was in my public safety career in emergency management. I recognized the constraints that hinder the public safety industry from innovation and growth. I recognized the opportunity for the Canadian Public Safety industry to introduce more privately organized players to compete in a publicly organized space, contribute innovative technologies and methods for helping save lives, and helping to foster economic growth for Canada.
What was your “aha” moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader? Tell us that story.
My epiphany occurred while in the emergency management and healthcare sectors when I envisioned how we can save more lives with new technologies that are not being used to their highest potential. While working with the Canadian Red Cross, one of my senior trainers took a job in Saskatchewan and ended up working in search and rescue. During a rescue training session, they used drones to find a lost child in the woods late at night, and through the use of drones with thermal detection sensors, the child was found quickly.
About two days after their exercise, I spoke to my senior trainer who was involved, and he told me that we should build this into our public safety programs in addition to our training programs to assist in tracking missing persons. Later that night, the epiphany came, which is what led us to changing our industry to Aerospace and Defence.
My epiphany still left me with many questions. How could we find missing loved ones, people who may be alone and suffering in a remote area, possibly suffering with a life-threatening injury? What if those people are lost in a vast wilderness area? Or what if they are lost in an urban environment through some other circumstance, like human trafficking, for example.
Many of these questions led me to closing my company and working in first aid services temporarily, which then led into reopening in Aerospace. Looking at drones of all classes helped me find the right solutions to those questions, and the answers were refreshing, revolutionary, innovative, and the future for search and rescue globally. The use of drones could help many people and even open education in new industries. This pathway enabled my company, Terranova Aerospace, to develop new knowledge and technologies toward the greater good, that will help many over the years ahead.
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Drones and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) make up an emerging industry that is very exciting for Canadians and the world. Once we solve the safety challenges surrounding unmanned air traffic management, the democratization of our airspace, and the day-to-day threats by terrorism, we can then fully reap the benefits of utilizing remotely piloted aircraft systems to replace the traditional methods of piloted aircraft.
What is the best advice you received?
When you are passionate about the things that you do, remember to share the work and rewards with your team. Keep focused, trust your team, and maintain baby steps in accomplishing every goal. In following these simple steps, you will be successful in all that you do. And if you don’t first succeed, then get up and keep doing it until you are successful.
What is a habit that contributes to your success?
Remaining focused on our missions that result in helping people and saving lives.
What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
The Canadian government has developed the Smart City Challenge which is run every year, and the winner can receive up to $50,000,000 CAD for the development of Smart City Applications that will benefit all humankind.
Creating a smarter world through innovation and technology is obtainable. I believe that we will create the world’s first RPAS that will save lives, protect humanity, and provide real-time data to the first responder in times of need in a single mission using artificial intelligence.
In Aerospace and Defence, my team and I challenge ourselves every day to be creative and unique, to think outside the box, and to innovate the services that we offer.
Terranova Aerospace started off as the dream of a few dedicated people. It has grown into the dream of many people, working together to reach a series of goals. We all believe that through our hard work together, we will one day touch the dreamed-of skies and become one of Canada’s largest Aerospace and Defence tech companies. My team and I are almost there, and together we are the Game Changer of Aerospace and Defence!
How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?
Terranova Aerospace is establishing itself in the drone, virtual reality and smart city industries to contribute to its future through prosperity, innovation and advanced learning. We are continuously inventing ways to use drones that will replace traditional methods and that will help people in making better decisions without risking human lives to save people who are in need of assistance.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your industry sector?
Drone safety remains a largely unsolved problem. However, Terranova Aerospace remains committed to contributing to the global effort to solve drone safety by developing methods for drone-to-drone communication, pilot education, drone regulation and advanced learning through 3D platform in virtual reality learning.
How has innovation become ingrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
Being in the relatively young drone industry – as it is continually being challenged and defined – means that Terranova Aerospace must take the leading role. Terranova Aerospace must embrace and embody innovation and work with other organizations to create something much larger. There is no other option.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
The integration of other technological innovations with drones will see artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and 5G networks become some of the drivers of change in the drone industry over the next two years. Drone manufacturers will also evolve their business models away from producing and selling units (the automotive model), to become more service-driven in operations.
What is your parting piece of advice?
Set a vision, stay focused on it, and trust in your abilities and your team’s abilities to achieve it.