Microdrones Offers More Capabilities with New Integrated Systems and Software

After planning and flying a mission, highly accurate, rich data is then uploaded and processed to create the desired visualization.

The company recently launched mdMapper3000DuoG VHR, mdMapper3000DuoG and mdMapper3000PPK, and announced plans for new software as well as an updated leak detection sensor. by Renee Knight, Senior Editor

With the launch of three new integrated systems, Microdrones has now completed the range of what its popular 3000 series of integrated drone systems can offer.

The md-Mapper3000DuoG VHR represents the biggest advancement of the three launches, giving users the opportunity to gather ultra-high-resolution photogrammetry from higher altitudes using the Phase One camera and direct georeferencing. Users also have the option to add the mdLi- DAR payload to the md4-3000 airframe with an integrated Riegl miniVUX-1DL. The payloads are easy to swap and give users more possibilities.

With the integrated 100-megapixel Phase One iXM-100 camera, the system can achieve one-pixel mapping accuracy from 1,000 feet, Microdrones President Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil said, making the new offering a “game changer” in the drone industry. The Phase One camera is paired with a custom, lightweight, vibration-free, quick connect mount.

“We wanted to leverage the performance of the platform to really bring something new and better,” Heriard-Dubreuil said.

“Most of the photogrammetry systems on the market are designed to f ly at 500, maybe 400 feet. We wanted to create something efficient, accurate and precise, and we saw the opportunity with the 3000. That’s how the VHR was born.”

The company also announced two other launches: the new software ecosystem mdInfinity and mdTector1000CH4 LR, which is integrated with a Pergam Laser Methane Falcon sensor for detecting Methane (CH4) and methane-containing gases.

FLYING HIGHER

The mdMapper3000DuoG VHR allows users to maintain high mapping accuracy even if the system is far from the ground, opening up opportunities in many different industries where this is crucial, Heriard- Dubreuil said. Because of its payload and speed, the professionally developed system can be used in place of manned aircraft for some applications and still provide users with similar precision.

This system is a breakthrough for mining companies, Director of mdSolutions Mohamed Mostafa said, making it much more efficient to accurately map open pit mines, for example. It also can cover larger areas, enabling users to map in terms of square kilometers instead of square meters.

This expanded coverage is huge in countries where there aren’t as many limitations on drone f lights, as in China, where the system might be used for city modeling, for example.

Large construction projects, pipeline monitoring in the oil and gas industry, and corridor mapping of long roadways are among other application possibilities, Mostafa said.

“The system includes the DuoG component, and that DuoG includes inertially fused GNSS with dual IMUs that enables corridor mapping. So for infrastructure and transportation fields you could f ly a corridor and cover up to six to eight or 10 square kilometers, which is a fairly long stretch of road, to be done in half an hour at the level of centimeter or half-inch resolution with a similar accuracy of a pixel level,” he said. “That is very unique to deliver in one flight and that flight could be 30 minutes up in the air.”

With this system, professional mappers will be able to complete jobs that once required expensive manned f lights in half a day, he said. The system will give them full coverage of 4 to 6 square miles with “the highest resolution and accuracy in the world” of a pixel or so, at the level of 1,000 feet or more.

Regardless of the project, VHR offers data acquisition, data verification, quality control and assessment using multiple streams of data from imagery and inertially fused GNSS in one package.

“When you connect a 3000 LiDAR payload

to the drone [mdMapper3000DuoG], it’s one connection for everything.”

Vivien Heriard-Debreuil, president, Microdrones

“We wanted to leverage the performance

[of the mdMapper3000 DuoG VHR] of the platform to really bring something new and better.”

Vivien Heriard-Debreuil, president, Microdrones

The mdMapper3000DuoG and the mdMapper3000PPK

These systems also offer a variety of benefits for customers and can be easily upgraded to the VHR and LiDAR payloads, so there’s no need to invest in separate drones.

The mdMapper3000DuoG offers direct georeferencing and a 42.4-megapixel Sony RX1R II camera on a nadir mount. It can quickly acquire highly dense and accurate data in half the time of PPK-based systems, and can easily be upgraded to VHR or LiDAR by purchasing the payload(s) and related f irmware and software subscriptions.

The expandable mdMapper3000 PPK can acquire dense and accurate data with one to three ground control points. This system also features a 42.4-megapixel Sony RX1R II camera and nadir mount. It is DuoG-ready and easily upgradeable via firmware to direct georeferencing. So, users can swap payloads if they want to add LiDAR or Phase One capabilities or upgrade the firmware to go from PPK to DuoG.

“The integration of payloads is really quick,” Heriard-Dubreuil said. “When you connect a 3000 LiDAR payload to the drone, it’s one connection for everything. You don’t have a couple of cables with different sizes. It’s easy and it works.”

MICRODRONES MDINFINITY SOFTWARE

The new cloud-based mdInfinity software simplifies the workflow, Heriard-Dubreuil said, making it easy for customers to process data online with just a few clicks. Users don’t need a POSPac software license to access the various processing tools, and everything can be found in one place. Processing can be completed in three or four clicks online, giving users easy access to reliable data. The sophisticated POSPac software customers are familiar with powers the system in the background to help with drone data processing.

“It will become the backbone of everything we do,” he said. “You can have access to all the processing tools that really make the difference when you use an MD system.”

Users also can purchase data as they go. When the project calls for it, anybody using the mdMapper1000+, the company’s most basic drone, can process results at PPK or DG via a token-based system. This system is being tested now.

“That’s what the online platform allows us to do,” Heriard-Dubreuil said. “That’s the future of the mapper line.”

Available in early 2020, this software will become the backbone of the Microdrones product ecosystem. The first module introduced will be trajectory processing, followed by Pointcloud Georeferencing, Boresight Calibration and Pointcloud Colorization.

mdTector1000CH4 LR

With these integrated systems and software also comes the updated mdTector1000CH4 LR, which is integrated with a Pergam Laser Methane Falcon sensor.

The upgraded sensor offers a significant weight reduction. It draws on the drone power source and doesn’t have the display found on previous-generation detectors. Instead, information is displayed on the mdCockpit tablet software during f light, and via area concern maps postf light.

Microdrones made the upgrade based on user feedback, Heriard-Dubreuil said. Users wanted a sensor with more range and the ability to f ly higher with better performance in mountainous areas, which is exactly what the sensor provides. This upgrade isn’t meant to replace the current sensor, which can be used by teams on the ground. The updated sensor offers range up to 100 meters.

These systems, the software ecosystem and the sensor upgrade provide new opportunities for Microdrones in a variety of verticals and applications, while giving customers access to even better data and easier post processing.

Attracting the Best

As Microdrones continues its rapid growth in the commercial drone industry, the global company must attract the best and brightest minds to help it provide customers with the high-end solutions and services they’ve come to expect. Here’s how.

As a rapidly growing drone manufacturer with a global presence, Microdrones is always on the lookout for talented individuals who can help the company continue to innovate and make its mark in the industry. But recruitment isn’t always easy, especially in such a young, evolving market.

Eva Spexard, HR Manager, is in charge of finding the right people for the Microdrones family, and loves that what she’s looking for is always changing. Based on the technology being developed, she might need someone with one set of skills today and a completely different set six months down the road. It’s a dynamic, exciting environment, which certainly helps attract the kind of people the company needs to stay on the leading edge.

“It’s a great opportunity to be at a company like Microdrones because I love the technology,” she said. “I’ve never experienced so much love for a product as I do here, and that’s great for recruitment. Everyone falls in love with our product.”

Candidates are always interested in talking about Microdrones solutions—even if they’re interviewing for say an accounting role, Spexard said. Taking a job with a company that manufactures drones and provides the sensors, software, support, workflow and training around it is much more interesting than working for a company that sells insurance. Any time Spexard tells people where she works, they want to know more about the technology and what she does. It’s certainly a conversation starter and something employees are proud to talk about.

No matter what area of the company Spexard is hiring for, she’s looking for best-in-class talent. The human resources department is driving a global hiring initiative to keep up with the company’s rapid growth—they’re now at 225 employees, with 60 of those employees in the new Siegen, Germany office where Spexard works—and Spexard is on a mission to fill openings with people who will thrive in the Microdrones culture, no matter what part of the world they end up in. In fact, matching new hires to the company’s culture can be as important as finding technical talent. Innovation, passion, self-motivation, pride in product and company, and 360-degree feedback within teams are benchmarks for Microdrones HR success.

Microdrones new 2080 sqm (22,000 sq. ft.) facility located in Siegen, Germany.

Competing with Other Big Names

When engineers graduate from universities in Germany, many of them have their sights set on taking jobs at well-known automobile companies like BMW, Spexard said. That’s where engineers go if they want to have a stellar career. Spexard wants these young engineers to think of Microdrones in the same way.

“One step could be close interaction with the universities and showing students what interesting projects we do,” Spexard said. “It’s important for us to make sure young engineers know our products, know our brands and tell their friends and other students about us.”

Beyond working with students at the universities, Microdrones also uses social platforms like LinkedIn to recruit talent, loading videos that illustrate the company’s best-in-class technology. The marketing department creates these videos, which have proven to be important recruitment tools.

Eva Spexard, HR Manager

No matter how they find them, most applicants simply don’t have a drone background—and that’s OK, Spexard said. It’s important for engineers to understand this is a new, evolving industry and most people don’t know much about it yet. That’s part of the fun. New hires just have to be willing to learn and be enthusiastic about what the technology can do.

“That’s not an issue for us at all,” Spexard said. “What we need more than that is enthusiasm about the customers and products. We have great people here who will tell them how it works and how it’s done. We just need people who can fall in love with the product as much as we already are.”

And there is plenty of opportunity at Microdrones for the right people. Spexard is currently recruiting for software and hardware positions as well as accounting and finance. She’s looking for both experienced and junior professionals who are willing to learn and who are eager to become part of the drone industry.

Team members from Microdrones discussing a flight mission.

Beautiful New Office In An Up-and-Coming Town

The main Microdrones campus is near Frankfort and Cologne, which is attractive to candidates who want easy access to large cities. Siegen itself is an up-and-coming area, with plenty of investment being made into its downtown. The city now caters more to the university’s younger crowd, with cafes and restaurants and an attractive outside area that Microdrones employees can explore during their off hours. It’s also less expensive to live in Siegen than in bigger German cities, which is another benefit for young engineers just starting their careers, or for more experienced engineers who want to save on their living expenses yet still enjoy quality-of-life advantages.

While the city offers its charms, candidates tend to be blown away by the new Microdrones office building from the moment they arrive, Spexard said. Its modern look is an unexpected sight that demands attention. The first thing she does when candidates arrive is take them on a tour of the campus, which always impresses. It really is an office for a high-tech company, with its sleek look and color palette, and anyone who walks in feels that vibe right away.

And while the company is growing, the office is still small enough that employees don’t feel like their voice gets lost or that their opinion just doesn’t matter. They know who to contact if they have questions or ideas they’d like to share. They don’t have to send an email to someone’s assistant to get a response.

Creating Standards Worldwide

When onboarding new employees, Microdrones has a process that its offices all over the world follow—which is important for an expanding global company, Spexard said. Most people who join the team aren’t just continuing with what they were doing before, so a high-quality, consistent onboarding process must be in place to ensure new hires are successful.

Once new employees are introduced to technical equipment and are ready to get started, the first thing they do is talk with people in all the other departments, Spexard said. Meetings are scheduled, either in-person, via telephone or Skype (depending on office location), so they can learn about and understand what all the other departments do, and what role they play in the company’s success. HR also gives them an overview of what they can expect as a Microdrones employee and how the company is organized, as well as who they should reach out to for answers to any questions they might have.

A group of Microdrones team members in the Canadian workshop.

“We want to make sure everyone who is included in the onboarding process is given the same information and the same instructions,” Spexard said. “Everyone should feel comfortable starting their role. That’s why we have standardization in place.”

Onboarding starts as soon as someone decides to join the company, and includes going through the contract, Spexard said. Once employees sign, they immediately become part of the Microdrones team and are given the attention they need, whether they have questions about the dress code or specifics about their new role.

Spexard and the rest of the HR team have online checklists to help them ensure everyone receives the tools and training they need and that they all go through the same onboarding process.

Today, with more than 220 employees, providing a sales, support and distribution network spanning six continents, Microdrones continues to lead the commercial drone industry with fully integrated systems.

Company Culture

Creating the right culture is key to attracting the best employees possible to Microdrones, Spexard said. People don’t just want a job with a nice salary; they want to be proud of what they do and excited to come to work each day. That’s certainly how employees feel about Microdrones.

“I always say what connects all of us and what creates the culture at Microdrones is really that we are all thrilled about our product,” Spexard said. “That creates a culture of trust and flexibility because, for us, it’s important that people get the job done. That’s all we want from them. It’s really a culture of trust and motivation to make this company the world leader in professional drone solutions, and that’s something the people who join us immediately feel. We are not like other companies. It’s all about what we do, and we love what we do.”

With offices all over the world, there are people of many different cultures and
nationalities that make up the Microdrones team. You might work in the Germany office yet your boss is in the United States. This opens up the opportunity to travel and for employees to learn how people from various cultures approach the same problems or questions in different ways.

“The fact that we have so many different people with so many different views makes us better than other companies,” Spexard said. “Just here in Germany we have 60 people and about 20 different nationalities. We have people from India, Japan and South America. Everyone brings their own piece of cultural experience and their own view on things. We as a company are open and willing to hear every voice. That helps us in team building and development.”

Microdrones employees in the Siegen, Germany office.

Employees learn from each other, and that makes everyone stronger, Spexard said. They’re not doing the same thing every day, which keeps their jobs interesting and creates an environment that fosters innovation. Everyone who hires on must have that global perspective, and be open to working with people from different cultures and nationalities—and excited about how doing so will help them grow as professionals.

More Growth Expected

Microdrones experienced significant growth in 2018 and will continue to expand in 2019, with the focus on providing and developing solutions that move the UAV surveying and mapping market forward. But to do that, the company must find and hire innovators who can make it happen. Spexard and her team are working with the marketing department and doing their part to find the right people, whether they’re hiring accountants or experienced software developers.

The innovators who work at Microdrones love what they do, and are proud to be part of such a dynamic industry. They’re learning and growing as they develop products that are changing how things are done for the better across a variety of industries worldwide. It’s an exciting time to be part of the UAS industry, and to be part of Microdrones.

“It’s a great company to work for,” Spexard said. “I think that’s important in HR, for you to actually love to be part of the company you’re recruiting for. If you’re not, you’re not going to be good at your job. We all go the extra mile to make this company a big deal by what we do and who we are. I love to be part of that and I’m hoping every new recruit and everyone interested in the company will love to be part of it as well.”

WEDNESDAY WEBINAR REPLAY: SHOULD I INVEST IN DRONE-BASED LIDAR?

Are you or your company considering drone based LiDAR? Recently, Microdrones hosted their first Wednesday Webinar to discuss the challenges, benefits, and deliverables that integrated UAV systems, like the mdLiDAR1000 and mdLiDAR3000 can bring to the table.

The webinar was the first in a new series of Wednesday Webinars, where industry experts share case studies, review various unmanned aerial solutions and discuss the ways drones are being deployed to do real work around the world.

If you missed the live webinar, you can still access the replay, and learn how drone-based LiDAR is having a serious impact for professionals like you. Click the link below to register for the replay.  You’ll have the opportunity to review the challenges of drone-based LiDAR and how to overcome them. The presenters also discuss how drone-based LiDAR improves workflow, reduces field and process time. 

Matt Rosenbalm, Microdrones Sales Manager for the Southern United States, hosted the webinar. He has extensive experience in the geomatics and construction markets, specifically in drone sales and operations. Matt is instrumental in growing the adoption and implementation of drones for surveying and mapping. He makes difficult concepts easy to understand for distributors and end users across markets and geographies.

Brian Flaherty, a survey manager for ESP Associates, also participated in the webinar, sharing his experience with drone-based LiDAR. ESP Associates is a multidiscipline engineering and surveying firm based out of Charlotte, NC. Brian has a diverse background in surveying with more than 27 years experience. As a PLS in the state of North Carolina, he runs a surveying department out of ESP’s corporate office. Brian is Private Pilot and Part 107 UAS Remote Pilot. He is leading ESP’s effort of developing the UAS services.

Microdrones will be hosting another Wednesday Webinar shortly. For more information or to learn how you can put drone-based LiDAR to work for your business, contact one of our team members today.

MICRODRONES EXPANDS INTO ASIA WITH ACQUISITION OF AIRCAM UAV TECHNOLOGY

New York, NY- As part of an ongoing global growth initiative, Microdrones has acquired Aircam UAV Technology (“Aircam”), a 64 employee Chinese company with its main location in Foshan, an hour-drive from Guangzhou in Southern China, and a branch in Beijing. Aircam has developed a large Chinese and Southeast Asian customer base with a focus on surveying & mapping, utilities, and oil & gas industries.  

Aircam will be fully integrated with the Microdrones business, brand and leadership team. The Aircam brand and corporate identity will change to Microdrones, and all aspects of the business will be directed by the Microdrones global leadership team.

Microdrones and Aircam have a long history of working together. Microdrones President Vivien Heriard Dubreuil explains, “For the past decade, Microdrones and Aircam have shared a strong distribution relationship, selling and supporting Microdrones systems to professionals throughout the continent.”

Although Microdrones professional drones have been available in Asia (though Aircam) since 2008, Microdrones now has a direct, local presence in the market. Microdrones technology, products and solutions will be available to customers throughout Asia, subject to applicable export control and regulations.

“We’re talking about business oriented, field-proven solutions that will help end-users make better business decisions.” says Heriard Dubreuil, adding “Globally, this is the next step in our evolution. In Asia, specifically, this will have a revolutionary and transformative impact for our customers and our business.”

According to Francois Gerner, SVP of Corporate Affairs for Microdrones, “This is exciting news for Microdrones, our newly acquired team in Asia, and our respective customers across markets worldwide. Microdrones is investing in its presence in China so we can offer professional solutions to the high potential commercial market throughout the continent. With more than ten years of operation and market experience in Asia, we are thrilled and grateful to welcome the Aircam team to join the Microdrones family.”

Completed in late December of 2018, this acquisition hardens a global presence for the rapidly expanding company and its technology platforms. “We now command a best in class R&D, manufacturing, sales, service and marketing footprint across 6 continents, with more than 220 employees worldwide.” explains Gerner, further noting that “Aircam brings to Microdrones additional production and service capacity and a seasoned team, with access to an enthusiastic customer base across Asia.”

Microdrones success and notoriety worldwide is rooted in mastering all of the key hardware and software technologies required to provide fully integrated, professional solutions. As one unified company, Microdrones is best positioned to transform customer needs into effective, scalable products and solutions for professionals in all markets and territories.

Despite the name Microdrones, the global technology solutions company doesn’t just sell drones, but rather complete commercial packages that include:

  • The drone, adapted for professional applications,
  • perfectly integrated sensors,
  • software and workflow,
  • service, training and support.

Dr. Mohamed Mostafa, who directs product and solution development for Microdrones sums it up like this; “Microdrones designs each technical brick of the workflow to be optimized for the application, while supporting production of the best data for end-users. We offer proven systems for professionals in surveying, mapping, mining, construction, land development and inspection. The expanded Microdrones team will provide solutions that help professionals be the best both in the field and at the office. Our easy workflow takes users from data collection through information creation, with one goal in mind: to help them use our technology for better decision making.”

About Microdrones 

Founded in Germany in 2005, Microdrones developed the world’s first commercial quadcopter and the company continues to lead the industry with their professional UAV solutions. 

By pairing robust drones with cutting-edge sensors, Microdrones offers advanced turn-key solutions that make it easy for businesses to start using UAVs for surveying, mapping, construction, inspection, precision agriculture, mining, and other commercial applications. A heritage of quality German engineering, extra-long flight times, resistance to environmental challenges, and technology like direct georeferencing make Microdrones solutions exceptionally safe, efficient, and cost-effective choices for commercial users.

Microdrones serves markets around the globe. To learn more about Microdrones, visit www.microdrones.com.

MICRODRONES MERGES WITH SCHÜBELER TECHNOLOGIES

Siegen, Germany- As part of ongoing global expansion, Microdrones is proud to announce a merger with Schübeler Technologies. Since its founding in 1997, Schübeler has built a global business by providing advanced fan propulsion jets and lightweight composite materials fabrication. 

Offering a full product lineup of robust turbo fans, jets, compressors, pumps, electric motors, carbon fiber and aluminum composites, Schübeler products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and demanding field use. These components provide thrust power and lightweight durability to high tech applications including UAVs, professional motorsports and heavy duty outdoor equipment. 

Microdrones, founded in 2005, has enjoyed rapid growth, evolving from the world’s first manufacturer of commercial grade unmanned VTOL aircraft, to a provider of fully integrated systems for surveying, mapping, LiDAR and inspection applications. These systems are being put to use worldwide by professionals in the construction, mining, energy, agriculture and infrastructure trades. 

According to Microdrones President Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil, “We make life easier for professionals by offering the full solution; it has proven to be a successful strategy. Perfectly integrated drones, sensors, software, workflow, training and support is what the market needed. Welcoming the Schübeler team, talent and capabilities to Microdrones delivers new aviation technology and capabilities to our customers in the form of next generation unmanned aircraft.”

As the preferred provider of VTOL solutions to Trimble Dealers worldwide, Microdrones adds a global sales force and distribution network as well as technical centers and production sites spanning 7 countries and 3 continents. Daniel Schübeler, founder and CEO of Schübeler Technologies explains, “Merging with Microdrones empowers us to develop and deliver systems where we can best support customers locally. This is a happy homecoming for me and the team that we’ve built over the past twenty years.” 

Daniel was an original founding partner in Microdrones and helped develop the pioneering technology that helped Microdrones gain global recognition as the first professional VTOL UAVs. He adds, “Both of these companies have enjoyed global growth and impressive technological advancements independently– merging our talents and teams will yield amazing solutions in the years to come.”

Francois Gerner, SVP of Corporate Affairs at Microdrones explains, “This is a strategic growth initiative. We are adding technology, IP, talent, strong leadership and investment capabilities that are complementary to both brands. This deal brings us to more than 150 highly skilled employees worldwide, which translates to better products, service and support.”

In addition to expanding the Microdrones team and family of products, the merged companies will also retain the Schübeler Technologies brand, which commands a niche’ audience of serious aeromodelling enthusiasts. Schübeler Technologies will continue to serve these markets as well as tackle large scale custom R&D projects related to propulsion and materials. 

About Microdrones 

Founded in Germany in 2005, Microdrones developed the world’s first commercial quadcopter and the company continues to lead the industry with their professional UAV solutions. 

By pairing robust drones with cutting-edge sensors, Microdrones offers advanced turn-key solutions that make it easy for businesses to start using UAVs for surveying, mapping, construction, inspection, precision agriculture, mining, and other commercial applications. A heritage of quality German engineering, extra-long flight times, resistance to environmental challenges, and technology like direct georeferencing make Microdrones solutions exceptionally safe, efficient, and cost-effective choices for commercial users.

Microdrones serves markets around the globe. To learn more about Microdrones, visit www.microdrones.com

About Schübeler Technologies

Founded in 1997, Schübeler Technologies offers a full product lineup of robust turbo fans, jets, compressors, pumps, electric motors, carbon fiber and aluminum composites. These rugged components are designed to withstand extreme field use and demanding applications for UAV’s, professional motorsports and more. To learn more about Schübeler Technologies visit http://schuebeler-technologies.de/en/.

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