Earlier this month, UK commercial drone solutions expert COPTRZ hosted a Live Drone Demo Day at the Dunchurch Park Hotel near the town of Rugby in Warwickshire.
Attended by manufacturers, distributors and end users, the event gave attendees a look at the latest UAV technologies.
In between demonstrations, representatives from companies such as DJI, Flyability, Phase One and Parrot, gave insightful talks to attendees.
Global drone leader DJI showed off a number of its systems, including two Matrice 210 V2s, one with LiDAR capabilities and the other with XT2 and Z30 Cameras for dual thermal and visual imaging.
Also present was the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Thermal and the Matrice 600 with a Phase One camera.
Enterprise business development manager for Europe and keynote speaker Tobias Wentzler commented on the brand’s decision to display several different drone setups at the show, saying: “The more drones are being used, the more drones are entering into different application areas, this means a huge demand for more sensors and different softwares. That demand needs to be filled in multiple ways. And the ecosystem we have built up is putting us in a great place to fulfill that demand.”
Hopeful about the future for all in the industry he added: “We are seeing a huge increase in demand in the industry. The drone industry, at least in Europe, has stepped beyond the origin stage.”
Giving the caveat that he works exclusively in Europe and not the brand’s native China, Wentzler nevertheless acknowledged the initial closure of DJI’s headquarters and its response to the coronavirus on reopening.
“Yes, we had a lot of people working from home. It was government instruction to a certain degree, but also the company’s initiative. We have been sticking to the advice of the World Health Organisation.
“What I presented today involved the supportive measures, including a huge initiative in China. We are starting to act in Europe now. We are providing a more technologically-driven approach, adapting our drone solutions to this very new issue.
“We are using both proven technologies and experimental ones in China. For things like body temperature measurement and disinfection. We’ll see if this is helpful for Europe.”
Meanwhile, Gary Young, geospatial analyst for Historic England spoke about the trials of being a recently qualified drone pilot, and using drones within a public sector body.
Historic England has added drones to its operation to give a more complete picture of the historic buildings it analyses for safety purposes.
“Yes, we are using them in addition to ground mapping,” he confirmed. “It’s not its own programme but rather filling in gaps that would have existed before. Things like roofs, gutters, ledges, things you just can’t see from the ground that would have been voids in the dataset.
“We have five drones now,” Young continued. “We got two of them around June when we were initially practicing. We got the PfCO in July – I had never flown a drone before that – and then another couple purchased around that time. And then the fifth one was last week.”
Despite this rapid expansion, he says that the operation is far too young and small-scale to do everything in-house.
“There’s five of us covering the whole country on the geospacial side of things and only two of those five can fly a drone,” Young explained. “We tend to have to look to contractors for some of the more specialist jobs we need doing.
“We had a job recently where they were looking at some roofs in the quayside in Newcastle. We can’t get anywhere near that because it’s inner city, so there’s people and cars and everything. So that required a specialist contractor.”
Looking to the future, Young concluded: “I think we’re always going to [use contractors]. Purely because of the size of the team and the size of the area we’re covering, we’re not going to be able to do everything, even if we wanted to. But we’re certainly looking to improve our in-house capabilities.”
Finally, Flyability team manager EMEA Junio Palomba showed the brand’s Elios 2 indoor inspection drone in action, in a small room in the hotel no less.
Speaking on the Elios 2 drone and where Flyability goes from here, Palomba said: “The Elios 2 came out a year ago and we’re now in the process of gathering feedback and working out what makes most sense from a customer’s point of view, as well as what is actually feasible from an engineering perspective.
“We have a full breadth of suggestions: gas sensors, radiation detection sensors… It’s then up to the engineering team to decide what is feasible, and also up to us on the commercial side to say, ‘This is what the market is asking for.’”
Commenting on the success of the COPTRZ Live Drone Demo Day, he said: “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be here. COPTRZ are one of the best-performing re-sellers that we have in the European market. They remain the UK leader in the provision of this and other drone technologies, and the UK market was the major source of results for us last year.
“We look forward to doing even better in 2020 with the help of COPTRZ.”