Software company Falcker is the first drone operator in the Netherlands to conduct drone flights out of sight of the drone pilot with Percepto’s drone-in-a-box system. This paves the way for automated inspections of industrial installations and security applications. The first flights with the system are planned for April. Expansion to Germany and Belgium is planned in the near future.
Beyond visual line of sight
Percepto’s Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring drone box system consists of a number of components. The system is based on a weatherproof drone equipped with a high-resolution RGB camera and a FLIR thermal imager. The drone takes off autonomously from a docking station and then flies routine inspection missions.
The acquired imagery is directly processed in a cloud application, developed by Falcker. The drone can also perform ad hoc flights in the event of calamities, such as a fire or security breach. At the end of each flight, the drone returns to the box to be charged for the next flight.
The essence of the system is that there is no need for a drone pilot to be on site to control the drone. Instead, an operator oversees the flight remotely from the control room. That means the drone flies out of the operator’s view, also referred to as BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight).
Very strict requirements are imposed on such drone flights by law and regulations. After years of intensive consultation with the Dutch civil aviation authority, Falcker finally received the green light this week to be allowed to use the system.
Next step: international expansion
Duco Boer (CIO Falcker) is pleased with the issuance of the operational authorisation. “We are the first operator in the Netherlands to be able to use this system in practice for our customers. The preconditions are that the drone may only be used above controlled ground areas – read: own territory – and in controlled airspace or a-typical airspace. That paves the way for the inspection applications we envision.”
Next week, a Percepto team from Israel will travel to Rotterdam to prepare the system for use. In addition, Falcker will complete an intensive training course next week, during which a number of pilots and software specialists will be certified to install, operate and carry out maintenance work on systems from customers.
Falcker wants to speed up the commissioning and international expansion of the system. “The first flights with the system are planned for April, at a tank terminal. As a next step in the BVLOS process, we want to start applying for BVLOS permits in a number of neighboring countries, starting in Germany and Belgium,” says Boer.
Dutch parties interested in the Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring drone box system can contact Falcker. This company is a value added reseller of Percepto in the Netherlands and is certified for setting up and executing BVLOS drone operations.