What is the most important factor driving enterprise drone adoption? In this DRONELIFE Exclusive interview with senseFly‘s Pierre-Alain Marchand, Regulatory Compliance Manager: a drone manufacturer’s viewpoint.
The Factor Driving Enterprise Drone Adoption Right Now
senseFly’s iconic eBee has made an industry name as a lightweight, long endurance aircraft ideal for distance: from agriculture to large scale surveying. Those features make senseFly products ideal for many applications beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS): which Marchand says is becoming a critical factor for enterprise customers around the world.
Marchand says that recent efforts by regulators around the world to simplify and clarify regulations could signal the start of commonplace and accessible BVLOS flights – and wider enterprise drone adoption.
“Successfully implementing BVLOS flights into workflows is becoming more important to our customers. When flown BVLOS, fixed-wing drones can cover vast areas of land for longer periods of time and at a lower cost than using a helicopter or terrestrial methods. This helps users collect more data and provides a solid return on investment. To improve accessibility to BVLOS, we keep our finger on the pulse of regulations to ensure our technology remains compliant, while also supporting customers throughout approvals to help make the process as seamless as possible.”
“Flying at an Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) and BVLOS are core to the continuous development of the industry, as users can clearly see how these types of flights can translate to an improved ROI. Innovation in this area means that EVLOS and BVLOS are playing a key role in helping to increase adoption of drones, even in a space with such stringent regulations.”
Keeping Up with the Changing Requirements
Marchand points out that although the technology has progressed significantly, we are still only at the beginning of the drone industry evolution. “We expect to see drones become much more commonplace for diverse applications such as delivery, search and rescue missions and disaster evaluations, as well as mapping and inspection,” he says. “Services such as U-space will be integral to making this a reality.”
“With regulations continuing to change, one of our main focuses is ensuring our fleet of drones can meet evolving requirements. Because all senseFly drones have a modular system, the process of aligning with updates is much easier and allows users to swap out or replace parts as needed, whatever the application.”
Working Together on Evolving Regulations
The only way for the drone industry to move forward quickly is to work together – and senseFly is taking their place in the process. “While the industry is heading in the right direction, it’s important to note that the entire ecosystem needs to be aligned to evolve even further – so greater collaboration between authorities, manufacturers, operators and airspace users will be key,” says Marchand.
“It’s an exciting time; we’re working on a number of projects that could help to streamline the permissions process for customers undertaking advanced drone operations in the future. In the US we’re exploring Type Certification for our flagship eBee X fixed-wing mapping drone, which may enable a move away from waivers if successful. Following growing interest from our customers we’re also analyzing the recently published rules on Remote ID and Operations over People from the FAA, to better understand the implications for the drone community.”
“In Europe, the introduction of new standardized drone regulations at the start of 2021 was an important step. During the initial two-year ‘Limited Open Category’ transition period, we are helping to make sure our customers have all the support they need by keeping them up to date with the latest rules and procedures. We are also part of the committee writing the standards for the ‘Open Category’ classification and will later contribute to developing those for classes C5 and C6 in the ‘Specific Category’.”
New Products, Lower Prices to Support Enterprise Scale
As drone adoption and the drone industry mature, drone manufacturers like senseFly are bringing out new products to increase ROI and improve accessibility. “Drones are a great tool to complement and enhance traditional data capture techniques. Fixed-wing technologies, in particular, provide numerous benefits to commercial operations compared to quadcopters, allowing users to spend less time on-site, reduce labor costs, increase project capacity and expand remote and corridor mapping capabilities,” says Marchand.
“The success of senseFly’s flagship eBee X fixed-wing mapping drone led to the recent expansion of the eBee X series to introduce two new products: the eBee Geo and the eBee Ag. Positioned at lower price points to improve access to fixed-wing drones further, the eBee Geo provides scalable benefits for surveyors, civil engineers and GIS professionals to improve ROI, data quality and performance in project-based applications, while the eBee Ag has been developed to help farmers, agronomists and service providers map and monitor crops quickly and easily.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.