We at FlyNex celebrate 10 million queries in our Map2Fly app. In the third part of the related blog series, we will focus on the actors behind the controllers.
In the previous blog article, we asked Frank Lochau about his work. Today we are talking about the founder of Aerial Solutions GmbH, Michael Küpper.
1. How did you first come in contact with drones?
In my professional career, I have always had a particular interest in future technologies. So I already started in 1993 as a freelance draftsman with CAD drawings, at a time when the largest hard disk available on the market had a data volume of only 45 MB, and CAD was still running under the operating system DOS. Later I had an energy consulting office at times when energy consulting was still a foreign word. It is the same with the drones. At the beginning of 2016, I reoriented my career and was initially working with a Berlin company as a BIM consultant (BIM = Building Information Modelling). There I recognized the need for virtual 3D models of existing buildings and terrain structures. I was familiar with the method of laser scanning from the construction sector, but also the limitations of this technique. For example, the problems and limits of data acquisition often lay in the fact that with high and complex buildings and with vast impassable terrain, an insane effort had to be made to get there with the heavy laser scanners. The idea to solve these problems using photogrammetry from the air using a drone was born. In summer 2016, I bought my first large industrial drone with a good camera as payload and started to learn about photogrammetry.
2. What does a typical day/mission look like for you?
Today, as the founder and managing director of Aerial Solutions GmbH, which was founded in mid-2017, I am responsible for acquiring new orders, advising customers, organizing training courses, and coordinating employees.
At least once a week, I go out flying myself, for flying practice, to try out new techniques, to optimize processes, and to supplement manuals. On a typical day, I usually leave very early, or in case of longer tours, I arrive the day before with our specially configured “Drohnomobile”. Our Drohnomobil is a four-wheel-drive caddy, which contains a special interior for drone transport and for working on site. In the back and out of the side door, there are 200kg loadable full pull-outs to get comfortably to the equipment. In addition to a laptop workstation on the passenger seat, internet, and data transfer via 5G gigacube with an external antenna and enough space for surveying equipment (GPS rover, ground markers) and barrier material, there is still enough room for our industrial drones. We exclusively use VDI 2879 compliant systems, starting with a DJI Matrice 200/210 or an Intel Falcon 8+.
3. Where and what do you fly? Which advantages does the drone offer?
We fly in four different business areas:
1. 3D modeling of buildings and digital terrain models using photogrammetry as a small but essential component in a BIM project.
2. Mass and volume calculations of gravel, sandpits, and in quarries and of heaps of material in construction and recycling yards.
The advantage here is the speed: We can calculate any volume of heaps of material at a recycling yard within two working days. We can do this because we can transfer the data to the back office while on the road, and the photogrammetry experts can start calculating the point cloud immediately. With our specially developed “AGISA” system, the interaction of photogrammetry software, and GIS systems, we can then calculate the volumes and generate the reports from the point clouds and the digital elevation models in a mostly automated manner.
3. Industrial inspection, primarily on behalf of surveyors at high chimneys, wind power plants, and tall buildings.
Here our customers save time and considerable costs for riser trucks, scaffolding, climbers, and their protection. But above all, the surveyor no longer endangers himself because he no longer has to climb a dilapidated chimney or a dilapidated roof. Another advantage is the use of drones with thermal imaging cameras in the inspection of facilities in production, chemistry, and transport. Here, inspections can be carried out on all temperature-relevant or moving objects during operation. It is no longer necessary to shut down a plant because the remote pilot and the inspector can remain at a safe distance.
4. Agriculture: here, we are the largest spreader of Trichogramma (ichneumon fly larvae) in Germany with a field area of 3,500 ha this summer.
Comprehensive biological control of the European corn borer is already no longer economically viable without the use of drones. Since the release of the ichneumon fly larvae can only begin when the maize has already reached a height of 80cm – 100cm and we only have a short time window of about three weeks in June/July in which the corn borer lays its eggs. Our special dropping drones reach a speed of 10m/second and have a digital map system that also documents the proof of dropping for the farmer. The whole process is supported by a special API, which simplifies ordering, data transmission to the pilot, route planning and navigation to the fields, mission planning, compliance with the cold chain for the larvae, and also billing.
Another business unit is the Aerial Solutions Academy.
Here, we ensure that our employees receive sound training, and we train our customers who want to set up their own drone team. In doing so, we strictly ensure that the requirements of DIN 5452 are met for drone training.
Only qualified specialists are used as training instructors for theory and practice and photogrammetry. Our participation in various committees of the BMVI (Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation, and Technology), our involvement in various DIN committees, and our work with AST-STAN (European regulation) helps us to stay up to date.
4. How do you think the job and technology will develop in the future?
I am very optimistic about the future of Aerial Solutions. If our growth in the individual areas continues in this way, we have the chance to establish ourselves as one of the largest independent DAAS providers (DAAS = Drone-as-a-Service) in the German-speaking world. We are already toying with the idea of a Europe-wide expansion. The European harmonization of drone regulations, which we hope to implement soon, will be of great help here. New technologies and better systems will rapidly take over the market; new needs exist and develop everywhere. In my opinion, the use of drones will establish itself as a quite natural tool in almost all sectors. In the future, every roofer, every building surveyor, every police task force, every surveyor, every planner, every BIM manager, every parcel service, every transport of blood, or frozen cuts, every security company will use drone technology to make work easier, faster and safer.
We thank Mr. Küpper and wish him ad his team of Aerial Solutions all the best and many safe flights!
Next week, our blog series will focus on the future of drone technology.
Until next week,
Your FlyNex Team