17 Oct First drone company seeking to industrialise aerial data capture to join CAA regulatory sandbox
sees.ai has today become the first drone company seeking to industrialise aerial data capture accepted into the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Regulatory Sandbox.
The Regulatory Sandbox was launched in April this year to create an environment where innovation in aviation can be explored and flourish in line with CAA core principles of safety, security and consumer protection. This work is made possible by funding from the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, launched by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
sees.ai, a Techstars-backed startup led by a team of four seasoned founders ex. Arup, Apple, CERN, McLaren and hedge funds, is developing a solution that will enable drone service providers to remotely deliver services on industrial sites from a central control room.
The collaboration between sees.ai and the CAA will allow both organisations to explore frameworks under which regulatory approvals for routine ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) operations could be granted.
Co-Founder and CEO John McKenna says: “Almost every commercial drone mission today is flown using a pilot on site. This approach was suitable for experimentation but it’s not suitable for scale-up, as it’s inconsistent and expensive. For a specialist offering like drone services it’s inevitable that operations will end up centrally delivered, driven by economies of scale and the benefits of expertise concentration. We are proud to be breaking new technical and regulatory ground and unlock this new model.”
Frederic Laugere, Innovation Services Lead at the UK Civil Aviation Authority says: “We are delighted to welcome sees.ai into our regulatory sandbox and work together to explore frameworks under which regulatory approvals for every day BVLOS operations could be granted. This collaboration will help support the establishment of regulatory frameworks and standards from which the whole sector can benefit by developing new services.”
Leveraging state-of-the-art technologies, sees.ai’s solution makes it possible for human pilots in a central control room to remotely operate drones on industrial sites spread nationally, with communications deployed over the cellular networks.
The solution gives pilots full awareness of the drone’s environment in real-time, which allows them to execute complex missions, even close to obstacles. As such it facilitates the widest range of missions – from complex, GPS-denied missions (e.g. around construction sites, under oil rigs, inside tunnels, etc); to routine missions (e.g. regular inspections & monitoring); to ad-hoc missions (e.g. immediate response to a security or safety incident or close inspection of a structure with a remote expert in the loop).
The regulatory environment is starting to shift to allow commercial BVLOS drone missions. This has been led by industry demand, particularly as the value of using aerial intelligence to monitor the UK’s construction, infrastructure and energy work is becoming more widely recognised.
sees.ai is initially focussed on the construction, infrastructure and oil & gas markets. – working with Skanska, Foster + Partners, NATS and Vodafone and preparing to test a prototype on a Skanska construction site in Q4 2019.
sees.ai will be presenting the business at Techstars’ Demo Day at Google Campus in London on October 17 in front of the top 200 investors in Europe.