Meet Delair, the Only Drone Company Recognized as a 2018 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum

BY Zacc Dukowitz
26 July 2018

Last month the World Economic Forum recognized Delair as a Technology Pioneer. Their selection was noteworthy for two reasons—not only were they the only drone company to be selected, they were also the only company from France to be included on the list.

Delair-fixed-wing

Those companies recognized were selected based on their potential to “transform society and industry” and to “shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

And it’s easy to see why Delair was selected.

For years now, Delair has been working to push the boundaries of commercial unmanned flying with their innovative fixed wing solutions. In particular their pioneering advancements in BVLOS missions, on both the regulatory and the technological front, open new possibilities for how drones can bring more productivity and efficiency to businesses.

They’ve also been making strategic partnerships with companies like Intel to help push the use of aerial data processing toward actionable insights, and, when it comes to using drones for commercial purposes, they’re one of the leading end-to-end providers in the world.

About Delair

Delair was founded in France in 2011, and since then they’ve largely been known for their work in creating fixed wing drones for commercial applications, including uses in mapping & surveying, oil & gas, mining, agriculture, construction, and transportation. Last year they were selected by the French government as an accredited supplier of UAVs to French government agencies.

The company currently employs over 120 people worldwide, and they have a presence in over 70 countries, with over 80 resellers throughout the world. Their headquarters are in Toulouse, France, with offices in Ghent (Belgium), Singapore, and Los Angeles (USA).

Although they’re commonly known for their fixed wing drones, such as the the UX11, Delair doesn’t only make drones. In fact, it’s an emphasis on the software side of the drone business that is helping them differentiate in the market. They offer an end-to-end solution for large companies, which means that, in addition to manufacturing drones, they offer a full suite of industry-specific analytics software to do aerial data processing as well intuitive flight planning tools.

They also equip their drones with advanced sensing capabilities, including their most recent DT26X Lidar, a platform ideally suited for geospatial professional who require the precision Lidar enables.

Delair UX11 – The professional mapping drone

Focused on ROI

Return on investment (ROI) has been of one of Delair’s big talking points lately, which is significant because companies—not to mention individual business owners, such as farmers—will only adopt new technology if it can actually help them save money.

According to Delair, although acquiring one of their fixed wing drones might cost more up front than buying a consumer multirotor like DJI’s Phantom or Matrice, the money spent will be returned over time by significantly reducing operational costs and improving productivity.

When Delair looked at the costs required to fly the same piece of land for agricultural data collection using their fixed wing DT18 Ag drone versus a multirotor drone, the results were that, over time, their fixed wing paid for itself because it was so much more efficient than the multirotor. While the fixed wing only required one flight to collect all of the data needed, the multirotor required multiple flights to collect the same amount of data, which significantly drove up the operational costs.

To make this concrete, using the fixed wing over one year to fly an area of about 185,000 acres came out to a cost of about 25 cents per acre, whereas using the multirotor came out to about 6 dollars an acre. When you’re flying a huge piece of land over time, that savings is a huge difference, and will have a big impact on your company’s bottom line—you can read more about Delair’s ROI analysis for agriculture here.

Delair and BVLOS

Delair started early in thinking about the potential benefits of BVLOS drone flights for commercial applications.

Delair-BVLOS

In 2011 they developed their first BVLOS prototype, and in 2012 flew the world’s first BVLOS commercial drone mission. Since then they’ve been racked up dozens of BLOS flights across the world have been working to open up BVLOS regulations in the United States (where they have actually done BVLOS flights as well, under applicable waivers).

Drones are the perfect tool to bring the power of big data to large, remote, unequipped locations.

– Michael de Lagarde, CEO of Delair

About one year ago, Delair set a new BVLOS distance record in France with a flight of 30 miles made to inspect power lines for the utility company Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE). The flight also recorded data data used to build models of RTE’s European power grid.

To support the record flight, two pilots were used for takeoff and landing, with the drone itself flying on autopilot using cellular connectivity.

Safety was ensured for the flight through the use of a flight corridor, which France’s civil aviation authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted Delair to use.

Intel’s Partnership with Delair

Last year, when Intel rolled out its Insight Platform for analyzing, storing, and managing data for commercial drone applications, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich proclaimed that data was the new oil.

Delair is a strategic partner with Intel in the creation of the Insight Platform, which was made in part to help turn the “big data” collected by drones into actionable insights for companies.

It’s all about workflow. What we want is to make this platform the center of aerial data for customers.

– Michael de Lagarde, CEO of Delair

Through the partnership, Intel will be able to draw on Delair’s years of experience in various industry sectors. This experience will help provide key insights into the needs of different industries, which will in turn guide the work needed to make further improvements and customizations to the Intel Insight Platform.

Check out this clip from an Intel demo at InterDrone 2017, which highlighted the Intel Insight Platform:

This article was sponsored by Delair.

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Zacc Dukowitz

Contributing Writer

Zacc Dukowitz is a contributing writer, and the former Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A writer with professional experience in education technology and digital marketing, Zacc is passionate about reporting on the drone industry at a time when UAVs can help us live better lives. Zacc also holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial art, and is a widely published fiction writer. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John's College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or check out zaccdukowitz.com to read his work.

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