Could 15, 2021
Drone Expertise, Frangible Fences, and Saving the Planet with David Vos
What do you get once you mix an aviation engineer, a profitable novice rider, and a galloping occasion horse? The reply, it appears, is the person who has made an enormous contribution to the work of the FEI Eventing Danger Administration Committee, and his identify is David Vos.
He describes himself as “an airplane nut” who was fascinated from childhood by aviation dynamics and controls. He solely began using when he was 40-years-old, however he has competed as much as the CCI2* degree in eventing, and his contribution to the creation of an up to date normal for frangible units for cross-country fences has been pivotal.
He’s obsessed with enhancing security. “We’ve got to make use of all of the instruments at our disposal, together with the individuals with a world of expertise who’ve been on this sport for a really very long time. You may by no means maintain everybody completely protected, however we are able to do what’s essential to make issues as protected as attainable if we take a accountable and disciplined method,” he says.
As an athlete who got here so late to the sport, his integration into the Eventing Danger Administration Steering Group took a while. “Whenever you enter a brand new group, nobody goes to take heed to you,” he factors out. It was via associates of his spouse, journalist, and entrepreneur Patricia Vos, that he was launched to USEA Cross-Nation Security Committee Chair Jonathan Holling, and it kicked off from there.
“I noticed the primary variations of frangible fences after I began eventing myself and I simply knew from an engineering perspective that it might be so significantly better. I’m super-interested on this from a physics and methods viewpoint,” explains Vos.
He continues, “I took movies of CCI2* and CCI3* horses operating at Honest Hill and started monitoring what the trajectory regarded like and the way the horses jumped. It developed fairly shortly as a result of that’s my specialization. I used to be shocked by how little of that existed within the dialogue, which was pushed by trial and error and expertise, however little or no by theoretical physics – the dynamics of methods.”
Speaking with somebody who is aware of find out how to use mathematical modeling to elucidate and predict pure phenomena might be a bit like swimming via soup for a few of us. However Vos balances the dialog with tales of his groundbreaking innovations, his love of nature, and his pioneering work via the Vos Basis which goals to make sure the range of life by planting billions of timber. And he talks about his horses too, after all.
It’s not simply his mental power that shines via, it’s additionally his altruism and humanity.
Born close to Capetown in South Africa in 1961, he has at all times been one thing of a free spirit, hitch-hiking across the lovely countryside from the age of 11. “After I was rising up my two huge loves have been nature and aviation. Animals have at all times been very particular to me, and immediately it actually hurts to know that after I was a child there have been half one million lions in sub-Saharan Africa however immediately there’s perhaps 30,000 or some tiny quantity like that,” Vos says.
His dad and mom and his sister stay in South Africa whereas his brother moved to London in 1987. “We grew up within the apartheid period and hated our Authorities. I found very early on that good educational credentials can be my ticket in another country – mainly, the world hated us all so it was fairly exhausting to discover a residence,” he explains.
He appeared destined for a life within the aviation enterprise. “There’s one thing magical about flight – my father was at all times into it and his brothers have been pilots who flew within the Korean warfare.” As a substitute of changing into a pilot himself, nonetheless, he set his sights on a spot at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Expertise) in Boston, Massachusetts, and on the age of 26, his want got here true. He made a big effect when, as a part of his Ph.D. challenge, he developed a unicycle robotic in a laboratory that was additionally residence to Marc Raibert and Robert Playter, who went on to discovered the world-famous robotics firm Boston Dynamics. It was step one on the highway to a rare profession.
Vos began small, understanding of his personal basement for a number of years earlier than forming an organization that went on to win contracts all around the globe. “The unmanned aviation market was simply starting within the late 90s so it was good timing,” he says. In considered one of many analysis tasks, he blew off 80% of a wing and tail of an airplane in flight and demonstrated how the automation system would simply maintain adjusting the plane so it might land efficiently. It was ground-breaking stuff within the early days of drone know-how, and by 2008 his firm, Athena Applied sciences, was a sizzling property that was ultimately purchased by avionics and IT large Rockwell Collins.
“I labored for them for 4 years as a part of the contract after which left in 2012 and tried to cover away as a result of I wished to spend extra time on our beautiful 200-acre farm in Virginia the place I had at all times felt I used to be simply visiting. I wished to immerse myself within the countryside and the animals and to spend actual time with my spouse. I managed to do this for 2 years, however then Google discovered me via Patricia’s horse enterprise and I ended up incubating their enterprise on drone supply service for 2 years,” he says. It was an actual hit. “We delivered 1,000 burritos by drone they usually wished me to take it additional, however that’s after I determined I used to be retiring for actual!”
It was within the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist assaults in 2001 that Vos was first launched to the game of eventing, and he was instantly hooked. He and Patricia have been dwelling in Cape Cod on the time, and on that notorious 9/11 morning Vos boarded the third of the 8:00 a.m. flights out of Boston. The primary two have been hijacked.
“It was a weird day and I ended up caught in D.C. for a number of months as a result of the aviation world shut down, and we have been busy with my enterprise there. Patricia came around me after being caught in Europe, and he or she dragged me out of my workplace to go to this factor known as a horse trials in Honest Hill. I instantly determined I wished to do it. In six months, we packed up our Cape Cod property and purchased our farm in Virginia.”
The very first thing Patricia, who has spent a few years re-training off-the-track racehorses, put in place was Vos’ coach, American rider Jennifer Simmons. “It was a synergistic partnership as a result of we used to sponsor her and purchased her a bunch of upper-level horses through the years. She was an awesome coach for me.” However, he admits he hadn’t the primary thought what he was getting himself into.
“After I began, I assumed you’re taking one lesson, purchase a horse, and off you go. I had no thought it was a lifelong strategy of at all times studying, and going via all of the ups and downs with completely different horses, and the way simply they get injured. Perhaps if I knew that forward of time I won’t have began!” he says with fun.
His first horse was lame inside six months, however lived out an extended and blissful life on the farm till passing away final 12 months on the age of 27. “After that, I purchased any previous horse so long as it was sound!” Vos laughs once more. A wild Trakehner/Thoroughbred mare was adopted by off-the-track Thoroughbreds, nevertheless it was a phone name from USA rider Will Coleman that launched him to his most profitable horse up to now.
“Will mentioned he’d seen an awesome Irish Sport Horse in somebody’s again yard in England and that I ought to come and take a look at it. So, we mixed a go to to Burghley in 2012 with going to see the horse with Jennifer Simmons and Chris Hunnable.” It wasn’t love at first sight, “he was bulkier than I had in thoughts,” however as soon as Vos sat on him “I took a deep breath, and that was it.” The pair went from energy to energy regardless of some drama alongside the best way.
“His identify is Pablo (Spring Centurion) and he took me from Coaching all the best way to the previous CCI2* (now CCI3*) degree. He was Eight after I acquired him, so he’s now 17 and I’m hoping to have him again in work once more quickly.” Pablo has twice ripped off a part of a hoof – as soon as out within the subject after which in his secure – and he’s nonetheless recovering from that second incident. “However, I’m an individual that by no means offers up, so I’m nonetheless hoping he’ll come again!”
On a enterprise journey to Eire in 2016 Vos purchased one other horse, Apollo, as a 4-year-old. “His mom is Irish and his father is German and he’s a super-nice man!” Vos says. He began working with Apollo after retiring for the second and final time in 2017. “I at all times wished to coach a younger horse. It’s been a bit just like the blind main the blind, however an entire lot of enjoyable!
One of many actually nice issues concerning the horse world is the connection we now have with our horses. They’re actually cool characters, they usually give us excellent life classes in find out how to be zen about issues we are able to’t management!”
Requested how his aviation methods experience segues into advising on Danger Administration within the sport he loves a lot – particularly since animals will not be machines and due to this fact should be much less predictable – Vos says “that’s the attention-grabbing half! You’d be shocked when a horse jumps how the physics actually dominates. There’s a cross-domain convergence of actually high-tech physiology, psychology, and human-animal relationships and it’s actually cool!
“At Burghley in 2019 for instance, I labored along with British Eventing and the FEI, and we had as much as 25 cameras across the course; I might present how the physics and the video aligned with one another inside 5% of accuracy. It gave us confidence within the methodology and in easy checks equivalent to placing a kettlebell on a sequence and swinging it at a frangible fence. Relying on the discharge heights you possibly can very precisely decide the power of the influence.”
Then we segue into speaking about Vos and Patricia’s work within the Vos Basis and the Trillion Timber challenge. “Proper now, our principal drive is to considerably improve the publicity about tree-planting. We launched along with the Eden Venture again in 2018 in Mozambique and thus far round 20 million timber have been planted and are rising, and we’re working with them and others to scale up the message.
“When you concentrate on it, tree planting is the one recognized answer to mankind immediately to resolve our carbon dioxide drawback. And, all we now have to do is plant yet one more tree for each three on the market on the planet immediately. If we try this by 2030 we’ll purchase most likely as many a long time as we have to carry on-line all of the sustainable power options the world wants to have the ability to have people simply survive on the planet with out driving carbon dioxide and world warming nuts!
“It’s extremely thrilling doing this straightforward factor – pushing seeds into the bottom and letting nature develop them. All we now have to do is assist nature right here and we are able to resolve this monstrous drawback that we, as people, have created.”
Again speaking horses, Vos says there are sturdy similarities between individuals within the equestrian world and his educational and enterprise colleagues. “There are at all times people who find themselves actually courageous, people who find themselves actually scared, and people who find themselves actually sensible, and I consider that being intelligent about issues is about being a fearless thinker greater than the rest.
“To succeed in the highest of something you want fortitude and dedication together with strong doses of humility. There are superior individuals in all places and I’m a very huge believer that most individuals are good individuals, and need to do the appropriate factor. The Eventing Danger Administration Group is filled with individuals like that.”