Insitu, the high performance UAV specialist owned by aerospace giant Boeing, regards Europe as “fertile ground for growth” due to the current entrepreneurial nature of the landscape, a senior executive at the firm has told Commercial Drone Pro.
The company, which was acquired by Boeing nine years ago, is appearing at this week’s Commercial UAV Show for the second year running, and as far as it is concerned the goal is to build new relationships and drive education.
Insitu creates and supports unmanned systems and software technology that deliver end-to-end solutions for collecting, processing and understanding sensor data, and according to the company’s chief growth officer, Jon Damush, the partnership opportunities are endless.
“We are here because we see this as a potential fertile ground for growth of commercial UAVs in Europe,” he explained. “There is a lot of start-up culture here, which is interesting, and that breeds opportunity for partnerships, for additional suppliers and certainly for customers. We are here to look for new business at the end of the day.”
To date, Insitu’s systems have accumulated more than one million flight hours and nearly 125,000 sorties. Mr Damush said the company fits squarely into the tier-2 drone market, with its systems capable of staying in the air for 24 hours. “We cover huge distances in a way that the small stuff just can’t,” he said.
This week’s UAV Show in London provides another opportunity for drone professionals to see firsthand how the market is developing.
I believe that as people try to get in and do aviation for real, they start to realise that there is a reason there are only so many professional aviation companies in the world”
As well as showcasing its offering, Insitu regards the exhibition as a chance to educate the community on what it takes to be a professional aviator and safely operate high-end systems in congested airspace that is typically shared with manned aircraft.
Asked if education around that topic was a massive challenge for the industry, Mr Damush replied: “A couple of years ago it was huge challenge because there were so many new entrants into the space, including giant firms like Amazon, Google and Facebook. I believe that as people try to get in and do aviation for real, they start to realise that there is a reason there are only so many professional aviation companies in the world. And that stuff is not trivial. The consequences of mistakes are significant so that takes a risk-based approach to managing your systems, to planning using the airspace, to working with regulators and insurance. So I would say that a couple of years ago it was a big challenge, but now people are becoming more aware and rational about the fact that it is aviation and they need to treat it carefully.”
He added that it is also good to see the level of attention and discussion around unmanned traffic management increase. “We see that as a critical enabler to the safe integration of unmanned systems, we don’t necessarily see it as a business opportunity in and of itself, but we will participate because it is an enabler and it is a good thing for the community.”