“We think that it’s time to focus not just on individual pilot’s needs but also on the needs of a distributed team. This is why we develop ATLAS.“
– Alexei Yankelevich, SPH Engineering
Learn more at: https://sph-engineering.com/
Alexei Yankelevich, Head of Software Development at SPH Engineering
We last spoke in early 2021, what are some updates you can give us about your company and products?
Alexei Yankelevich (SPH Engineering): SPH Engineering grows with the market and even faster than the market. As of today we have 4 product lines in our portfolio: 1) UgCS – a ground control software for drones, 2) UgCS Integrated Systems – airborne integrated systems with sensors from diverse manufacturers, 3) Drone Show Software – a commercially available software to manage drone swarm flights, and 4) ATLAS – a modern spatial data sharing platform for drone teams. Each product line grows on itself, however the most interesting thing is that we ship more and more combined solutions consisting of several products.
When people think about drones, they tend to think first of hardware, yet software is obviously key for a drone’s functioning. What makes your solution unique to the market? What would you say is your Unique Selling Point?
Alexei Yankelevich (SPH Engineering): I would say people no longer think about drone hardware or software. People think about solutions for their problems. And SPH Engineering does not behave like a software or hardware vendor only. We offer our expertise in AEC, agriculture, energy, geophysics, etc.
Last year we were the first who introduced LiDAR flight planning tools and we are working on industry-specific workflows to help pilots minimise mistakes during data acquisition.
Another interesting trend is that “one-man army” pilots turn into larger teams. This happens with small drone service providers and drone-enthusiasts in GIS departments in large organisations. We think that it’s time to focus not just on individual pilot’s needs but also on the needs of a distributed team. This is why we develop ATLAS – a scalable spatial data sharing and collaboration platform for modern GIS teams.
It seems like every year we hear more and more about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in general. What can you tell us about the use of AI for drones?
Alexei Yankelevich (SPH Engineering): It is very hard to speak about AI in general. Benefits heavily depend on the industry. I would say agriculture and various inspection services grow rapidly in terms of AI. The reason is clear – large areas, a lot of objects for detection which makes manual processes very time-consuming and error-prone. However, I would add, that despite the fact that many organisations look towards AI, they still have not solved a more essential problem – how to store in a structured manner terabytes of surveying data and how to provide access to this data to all interested parties: field engineers, design engineers, data scientists, clients.
What can you tell us about the role of regulation in software? Are there particular things that you need to keep in mind when developing your software? Or are there specific things that you are not able to do yet because the necessary regulations are not in place?
Alexei Yankelevich (SPH Engineering): Regulations do not have any direct impact on the way we implement the software. We care about convenience, reliability, scalability which are more or less regulation agnostic things. Regulations may slightly limit pilots during their operations. For example, our software UgCS is completely ready to control multiple drones simultaneously and to perform BVLOS flights, however this is not allowed in most countries without special permission.
Two topics that made a lot of headlines last year were drone delivery and passenger drones. Do you foresee your flight-planning software getting involved with these topics or what is your general outlook regarding those markets?
Alexei Yankelevich (SPH Engineering): I think that from the technological point of view software solutions are ready to become a backbone for a drone delivery operator. But I expect a long journey for these industries due to regulatory issues.
Before working with drones, Ed acquired vast experience in Communications and Diplomacy. He holds a Master’s in International Relations, Bachelor’s in Economics & Philosophy, and has lived in 7 countries.