Last year a business case in the Drone Business School, today an important step towards autonomous drone flights in Belgium!
The telecom operator Proximus is working with the start-up DroneMatrix and the air traffic controller Skeyes to create a platform for business drone services. This should be operational by the beginning of 2022.
Source: De Tijd, Pieter Haeck
With Proximus, a large but surprising player is taking its position in the corporate drone market. The telecom operator, along with Hasselt’s growth company DroneMatrix, which specializes in automatic drone technology, and Skeydrone, the drone leg of air traffic controller Skeyes, hold “The 6th Network” above the font. By early 2020, the consortium intends to offer business drone services under the name. It does this with an online platform that should take care of interested companies as much as possible. ‘We want companies to take the technological process out of the hands of a drone,’ it says.
What the platform will look like, exactly what services will be offered and at what rates has not yet been fixed. What is certain is that the trio has all business drone flights, automated or with pilot, in the air layer of 50 to 100 meters in the visor. The division of roles in the consortium is also clear. DroneMatrix provides the technical expertise on drones, Proximus manages the connectivity of the drone with its 4G and 5G networks and is also responsible for the storage of the data streams. Skeydrone is on board for his expertise in the management of the airspace.
The consortium partners are convinced that there is already demand in that market. “Today, the surveillance industry sends out agents to walk around buildings,” explains Frank Van Welkenhuyzen, founder of DroneMatrix, as an example. “A drone can do that, too. But for companies in the surveillance sector, this is of course a digital revolution.”
Another case is the inspection of masts, something Proximus is looking at. The government may also be interested. DroneMatrix has already done a pilot project in Antwerp, in which an autonomous flying drone assisted the police in a pursuit of a suspect and the fire brigade during data collection.
For Proximus, the business drone market is not entirely new. The telecom operator has already sniffed the market once, albeit in a pilot project. Proximus was one of the 13 members of the SAFIR project, which tested the use of drones, first in the intended DronePort in Sint-Truiden and then in Antwerp.
Proximus CEO Guillaume Boutin is also opting for a partnership. Earlier this year, he partnered with Belfius to establish a mobile bank, and entered into joint ventures with fibre optic specialist Delta Fiber and Eurofiber to accelerate the roll-out of the fibre network.
At the initiative of Europe, Belgian drone regulations will change radically from 1 January. A number of changes revolve around the registration of a drone or age requirements for the control. But from then on, the Belgian drone rules also take into account flights that happen “Beyond visual line of Sight” (out of sight) of the pilot. That makes a lot more possible for the consortium’s plans, it can be heard.