Category: Innovative Technologies
The drone-in a box solution of Mapture.ai leads the way for outdoor automated drone-based services
Rooted deeply in the high-tech ecosystem in the greater Rotterdam – The Hague area, Mapture.ai’s automated drone-in-a-box system is paving the way for a wide range of automated outdoor drone services. In the company’s solution, the ‘box’ is a shelter and charge station for the drone, which contains the operating software to automatically manage the drone’s flight, provides charging power and manages the data acquired during operation.
Drones can inherently bring a number of benefits to various labor-intensive and risky service areas, such as inspection of large or remote structures and urban, agricultural and natural terrain. To yield their full potential, however, drone operations must be automated. But outdoor application of drones brings a range of regulatory challenges, as they share the boundless sky with countless other aerial creatures, and in case of an incident, can create damage due to uncontrolled landing or a crash.
BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights for drones are therefore still very limited in Europe.
The drone-in-a-box solution of Mapture.ai is as close as it gets to a scalable automated drone service within current regulatory limits, allowing remote monitoring of the drone in action instead of requiring physical presence at the operational site. This provides an appealing proposition for service providers that are eager to optimize their operations and it provides Mapture.ai with a significant competitive advantage in the prospect of European regulation allowing more BVLOS operations, as is expected in the years to come.
The strict European regulations are often experienced as limiting by new technology pioneers, as is also the case in the Drone industry. However, since Europe’s market power provides enough volume for growth, European suppliers take significant advantage from the excellent reputation of European supply on the world market. In short, the ethos is often that ‘if Europe allows it, it must be good’
Building on solid foundation
Mapture.ai is growing and developing its unique and highly valuable technology at a fast pace, benefitting from various favorable circumstances in our region. For example, they soon found a supportive launching customer in the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (RWS), which has strong ties to the Dutch regulatory body.
RWS is investing in drone technology to optimize its shipping traffic and water management operations and partners with drone companies, among which Mapture.ai, to develop solutions fit for RWS’ purpose. The benefit of this partnership is twofold: it creates valuable customer proximity that helps commercialize its offering but more importantly, RWS is a credible advocate with the right network for advancing regulation to support further development and deployment of drone technology.
Founders Bart Slinger and Niels Klink first met as colleagues at a previous employer, which was a drone business as well. Soon they agreed to start working part-time on their new business idea, while still keeping their permanent jobs for some days a week.
The team of Mapture.ai is embedded in the tight-knit and exceptionally skilled drone community around TU Delft faculty for Aerospace Engineering and its affiliated lab MAVLab (Micro Air Vehicle Lab), and has access to extensive business support through the ESA business incubator in Noordwijk.
The team started off building the entire system by themselves; they had the right knowledge and experience to do so from their studies at TU Delft and Haagse Hogeschool. But soon they realized that the competitive edge of their solution lay in the internet-connected charge station (the box), which allows automated service operation, and not in the drone itself.
The team then started buying drones off the shelf, which enabled a more flexible service offering, since drones with various configurations can easily be implemented in the system of Mapture.ai.
Apart from RWS, the customers of Mapture.ai range from first responder services such as the Dutch Fire Brigade, where its solutions are used to automatically activate the drones, fly to the target location and provide the first responders with vital information while they are still en route to the scene of the calamity.
In the commercial arena, Mapture.ai sees increasing traction from AI-based automated inspection services such as Falcker, which uses drones as the carrier of the data-collector and are implementing the solution of Mapture.ai to scale their business. These partnerships help accelerate Mapture.ai’s growth, validating their products and creating the evidence required for regulators to move faster to make policy meet industry developments.
Interested in joining the Drone ecosystem in greater Rotterdam – The Hague?
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