Drones : the French players turned to the professionals

TREND. Airware has signed a commercial partnership with SenseFly, a subsidiary of Parrot, to offer large companies a service of analysis of data collected by drones. At the other end of the spectrum, Parrot is now offering its light-weight machines to craftsmen, architects and SMES. Overview of the major trends in the market of flying machines by Emmanuel de Maistre, the founder of Redbird and vice-president of Airware.
The market of uav commercial – that is to say, non-military and that is not entertainment – is evolving : regulations change and adapt, especially in the Atlantic where things are unlocked in 2016 (“Part 107“), after years of administrative complications. In Europe, the harmonization between different countries is not yet on the agenda but it could end in 2019 or 2020. The favourable situation in France, where rules have been laid down fairly early (2012), has allowed for the emergence of a real market where 5.000 operators are now registered with the authorities. “The drone business will represent a market of $ 500 million in 2017 at a global level“, said Emmanuel de Maistre, co-founder of Redbird, a startup French founded in 2013 and which was merged in September 2016 with Airware, its american partner.
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Develop an integrated offer of services to businesses


He analyses : “The u.s. companies were much more important than the european societies. Each of them was lifted up between 20 and 40 M€, which is not seen in Europe. Airware, the champion, has even managed to raise€90 Million“. On the customer side, the generalization of the use of drones poses a challenge : “The big players internalize today these missions, such as Colas, Eiffage, SNCF, Bouygues or Vinci, which all have subsidiaries dedicated“. However, the passage of the simple experiment where a few dozen people are working on the issue, in a real operational deployment on thousands of sites, requires that a broad recourse to sub-contracting to specialized entities. Emmanuel de Maistre cites the example of gear manufacturers such as Komatsu, John Deere or Caterpillar, which signed partnerships with actors in the world of drones. “Redbird has initiated this trend in 2014, with Bergerat Monnoyeur, dealer of Caterpillar in France“, said Emmanuel de Maistre. A first step that has led, in 2016, the signing of a contract with Caterpillar, first for the region Europe-Middle East-Africa and at the global level. And which led, at the beginning of 2017, to take a minority stake of Caterpillar in Airware, the owner of Redbird.
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The manufacturer of machinery does not want to miss its transformation to digital, “continues the specialist. “There is a co-development with Caterpillar to combine data from drones and terrestrial data captured by objects on the ground“. The possibilities are almost endless : “It is no longer a simple mapping but an aid to the optimization of the productivity“. As drones work more quickly and more precisely that of satellite imagery, whose pictures exploited are often a year or more. An asset in the field of mines and quarries, in particular, where the photogrammetric documentation are made in a few hours and then directly processed by the software ad hoc in the Cloud, to a given result in less than a day, where a week of work was needed to surveyors-topographers. “And the deliverable is not a simple file .pdf but a real 3D model of the career“, argues the vice-president of Airware, which shows the plans, sections and statistics that it is possible to obtain in a few clicks on a tablet. It is thus possible to improve the profile of the tracks in order to save the tires of the dump trucks, to reduce their fuel consumption or increase safety by controlling the height of the borders of rubble. “The challenge is to bring the customer to the mining economy of fuel of the order of 10 %, “he argued.


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