“CIRC’s Skywatch solution – We will know we are on the right track when we need to dodge cyborg assassins sent back from the future ”
– Justin Halls, Coretronic Intelligent Robotics Corporation
Learn more at: https://www.coretronic-robotics.com/
Justin Halls, VP Strategic Relationships of Coretronic Intelligent Robotics Corporation (CIRC)
Tell us something about your current position and professional background
Justin Halls (CIRC): I’m an engineer that initially worked for a modem manufacturer just as the the internet started to happen, then moved to digital video, digital projection, and imaging technology. I currently hold two positions – one as CTO for Optoma, best known for projectors, but also now LED and interactive LCD displays and the other as VP Strategic Relationships for Coretronic Intelligent Robotics Corporation (CIRC) where I am responsible for the development of our drone business in Europe. Both organisations are owned by the same parent company – Coretronic.
Coretronic is the largest manufacturer of DLP projectors and backlight modules for LCD displays and started work on autonomous AI robotics systems around 6 years ago, of which drones is a part.
Projectors to drones seems like an unconnected leap until you realise that both involve the very precise control of spinning motors that need to be extremely reliable. DLP projectors have at least 1 motor, often more, for the colour wheel or filters that need to be synchronised with the imager chip with an accuracy of around 1/1000th of a second and maintain that accuracy reliably during 24/7 use over the lifetime of the projector. We know a lot about motor reliability and control – which is of course rather important for drones.
What is your perspective on the commercial drone market in the next years?
Justin Halls (CIRC): CIRC systems are designed from the ground up to be autonomous – so we welcome regulations that enable autonomous BVLOS to happen routinely without special permissions as this has been a significant barrier to adoption. With this regulation in Europe gathering pace, we expect business to ramp-up. We also welcome the recent regulation of consumer/domestic drone use as irresponsible use was having a negative effect on the public’s perception of drones in general – which has a knock-on effect on the public’s perception of commercial drone applications
The Asian market is already the largest in the world, but where do you see it headed, especially in comparison to other places such as North America or Europe?
Justin Halls (CIRC): CIRC was born in Asia and our success there has enabled us to expand into Europe where we have just started doing business. An initial far lower level of commercial drone regulation in Asia helped to kick start commercial drone use there compared to the far more cautious approaches in Europe and the US. Now however, we are seeing Asia looking to these EU/US models to guide the maturing of their regulatory framework.
How has your business handled the coronavirus pandemic and in which areas did you face the biggest challenges?
Justin Halls (CIRC): The CIRC head office is in Taiwan which has had one of the lowest infection rates and has been held up as a model for the handling of the pandemic – so there were very few challenges there. The commercial side of our European expansion was put on hold for the last year, but we continued quietly working in the background on our product roadmap and added a few new products to our range over this period.
In which industry verticals does your company focus on currently?
Giovani Amianti (XMobots):
- Health Care and Disaster Relief
- Public Emergency Services
- Safety & Security
- Transportation Infrastructure
- Warehousing and Courier Services
Why did you choose this industry vertical(s) and what other markets have high potential for drones from your perspective?
Justin Halls (CIRC): In Asia we have been working with governments on infrastructure and environmental monitoring for disaster avoidance, first responders and emergency services to reduce risk to operatives and speed up response times and more recently with retail organisations for delivery. As a result of these initiatives, we developed a range of five models for specific applications: Kestrel – security/inspection, Falcon – surveying, Pelican – delivery, Swallow – long range VTOL and Hummer – mobile. Our next step is to replicate our success in Asia with these solutions in Europe and then the US. We have a new area of our business that is focusing on warehouse and factory automation, and we are exploring if drones can effectively be applied to this sector.
How does the European regulatory framework 2019/947/045 influence your strategic plan to enter the European market?
Justin Halls (CIRC): It was the catalyst. When we saw that the regulatory framework was starting to crystalise and moving in a direction that would eventually enable autonomous BVLOS operation we started taking steps to enter the European market
What do you think will be the biggest challenge in the drone market as a drone software developer?
Justin Halls (CIRC): CIRC provide total autonomous solutions, both hardware and software. Regulation we see as an enabler, and we welcome it. As more industries become aware of the capabilities of autonomous drone systems and the potential for these system in their markets, we see requests for applications we had not anticipated – our biggest challenge is to provide solutions for these applications as they come in thick and fast.