Little Arms Studios, the team behind the Zephyr Drone Simulator, did not get its start in the drone industry. We started out as a group of friends and developers who wanted to keep working together to make video games after college. Our team was introduced to Fairfax County Fire & Rescue through our university shortly after the company was founded in 2012. Their staff was looking for a better method of simulated training. We began development of a project, called the Interactive Virtual Incident Simulator (IVIS). IVIS was, and still is, a huge undertaking with years of development behind it. Over time, our focus shifted towards serious training development, though the game development background helps to make our products unique and engaging while still leading to effective results.

In 2015 we were at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC International) in Indianapolis showing our work on IVIS to first responders and met a drone reseller who was looking for a way to allow his potential customers to try before they buy, without risking the real drone. This was the beginning of our introduction to the drone industry. We learned more about it, what training it took, which tools were out there, we flew various models (and sadly crashed an expensive one!). We saw an opportunity to develop a training tool that would make organized training, such as classroom environments, much more effective and easier to manage. And so began the Zephyr Drone Simulator.

Over the years Little Arms has formed partnerships with many universities, colleges, public schools, businesses, and other organizations to ensure Zephyr has the best tools and experience possible for our users. We built the learning management system based on the needs of these groups and have refined it to make it easy and quick to use. We started hearing about Sharon Rossmark and Women and Drones, and reached out to see if there were any partnership opportunities. Sharon had the idea to create the Kids With Drones Simulator, based on her book, Drone Girls and the Air Show Adventure, with a focus on getting kids (especially girls) into STEM. We built this new gamified simulator with her guidance, to offer professional grade learning, but in a fun and engaging environment.

Current events have called for changes and reform in multiple walks of life. Little Arms is committed to helping communities and educators navigate a tech-focused field, which is becoming more complex as time goes on. We have been working with several under-served communities and organizations to donate licenses or create special programs for kids camps that help with career and professional development. Our goal with these organizations is to help open new doors and opportunities for kids and young adults who otherwise may have more limited choices. Technology can be a great way to generate interest in STEM education, and we are incredibly happy to offer a supplemental training tool that helps both kids and adults grow the skills they need to be successful in a relatively new field.

Article and images submitted by Kyle Bishop, CEO Little Arms Studios