Azur Drones has just announced that they have received the first authorization for Autonomous flight in France. Started in 2012, Azur makes automated surveillance drones for a variety of applications – and with automation one of the top new technologies in the drone industry, the company is poised to make a major impact. DRONELIFE spoke with Stephane Morelli, Azur’s Director General.
DroneLife: Congratulations on your recent authorization. Can you tell us how that came about? We’re sure it wasn’t easy.
Stephane: “Not really, indeed. We had very constructive discussions with the DGAC, but the subject of autonomous operations was very new. It was therefore necessary to define very precisely our concept of operations with our customers, then to obtain the expected requirements from the DGAC, and finally to comply with these requirements.”
DroneLife: What were the challenges that you encountered during the process that you did not anticipate in advance?
Stephane: “The biggest unpredicted challenge was for Azur Drones to conduct the safety analyses that corresponded precisely to the risks incurred during the operations we had planned. In this, the SORA (Specific Operation Risk Assessment) method, which is being validated internationally, has been very useful.”
DroneLife: Does the authorization from France translate to the rest of the EU or is it done country by country?
Stephane: “The future European drone regulation, which we expect to publish in the spring of this year, should make it easier for us to obtain authorizations in other European countries, based on our French authorization. In order not to waste time marketing our Skeyetech solution, we have already contacted some European aviation authorities to make them aware of our regulatory approach.”
DroneLife: Clearly the focus is on surveillance and security. How did you decide to focus on that space rather than other autonomous applications such, as mining?
Stephane: “We chose the security sector because we thought that technology, and in particular our highly automated drone solution, would create a real break in usage and in the business model of suppliers in this sector. This choice is now validated by our customers.”
DroneLife: Can you tell us briefly about some interesting security applications either deployed or in the works?
Stephane: “We are working to further increase the level of autonomy of our drone, but also on various developments that are requested by our customers.”
DroneLife: What is the one or two things that would you like to tell our readers about Azur Drones that they may not know?
Stephane: “It may be useful to specify that the Skeyetech project is born of a technological intuition, that it has been made possible by patient and attentive investors, and that it is implemented by teams honed with security operations, who interface with our customers.”
DroneLife: What do you wish that I had asked you?
Stephane: “If I enjoyed my military retirement!”
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