“Fixed-wing VTOLs have the potential to be a game changer. Hardware is hard: but seeing it finally taking off is very rewarding and still makes me smile.“
– Florian Seibel
Learn more on: www.quantum-systems.com
Florian Seibel – CEO of Quantum Systems
Tell us something about your current position and your professional background.
Florian Seibel: I am co-founder and CEO of Quantum-Systems. A 40+ people company currently growing fast in the VTOL space. My background is air & space engineering and I also hold a commercial helicopter pilot license which I got while serving in the German Armed Forces.
I am a flight instructor on fixed-wing aircraft as well. So, I would say I am familiar with both worlds. Flying rotary and fixed wing. The idea behind Quantum-Systems is to transfer this professional knowledge into the drone market.
What are your perspectives on the drone in the next years?
Florian Seibel: What we currently see is just the beginning of a technology that will change a lot of areas. I do believe that drones are good for a great variety of missions by helping gather high-value data. But coming from a professional aviation background I also strongly believe: forget about autonomous electric platforms taking people from A to B.
Have you ever tried landing a helicopter in IFR conditions, low on fuel with ice starting to form on your wind-shield? I just can´t see this happening with autonomous electric flying cars in the next years. The money investors spend on this dream is a high-risk game. But dreaming can make you fly of course.
Your platforms combine long range with vertical take-off and landing capability (VTOL-fixed-wing). Is the market prepared for this technology and where do you see room for improvement?
Florian Seibel: Absolutely. Topics all manufacturers of drone systems are facing are reliability and ease of use. DJI has pushed these boundaries quite a bit which is good.
At the same time, it is important to value your customers by providing perfect customer care and treat the data your systems collect confidential. Once the industry has solved reliability and autonomy the sky is the limit. Maybe let´s put it this way: BVLOS and 400ft are going to be the limit for now.
The share of hardware investments is decreasing the second year in a row. As a hardware manufacturer, what are the challenges you are facing?
Florian Seibel: Hardware is hard! Especially when it is flying. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Some hardware companies had to learn this the hard way. Especially when there is a market-dominating company that has solved these issues.
But going into software isn´t going to be a “no-brainer”. You are right, there is a lot of money in the drone-software sector right now. Some of these companies received an overall funding above $100 Mio.
But there are investors behind this money as well, and they expect to make a multiple of their investment. My call on this is: I think that we will see exactly the same in the software sector that has happened in the hardware market: there will be only a few software companies making the race.
Of course, it is easier to scale software: but hey, what good does software do if you have no hardware to collect your data with? Our experience is that people are willing to spend good money on excellent hardware.
Maybe comparing the whole drone industry to Apple and its iPhone is a good example that it takes both hard- and software to be successful. Software often is connected with an “I-expect-to-get-this-for-free” attitude. But I am only guessing. Not knowing all of this for sure makes it a challenging and fun sector to be in at the same time.
Drone data security is increasingly important. Where do you see the need for action to improve/ensure safe data transfer e.g. for security-critical applications?
Florian Seibel: As said before – every drone company must be able to guarantee that it is taking data-safety seriously. Claiming that customer data isn´t going somewhere is not enough. Google and Facebook are good examples for this. Great companies, but always know where you come from and what got you there. I am impressed how strongly Apple defends these values against the US Government.