“Drones are the perfect tool to bring the power of BIG DATA to large, remote, un-equipped locations. They take an active part in the digital transformation of every industry, and as such have become inevitable.“
– Michael de Lagarde
Learn more on: https://delair.aero/
Meet Michael de Lagarde – CEO and Co-Founder of Delair-Tech
Tell us something about your current position and your professional background.
Michael de Lagarde is co-founder and CEO of Delair-Tech, a global leader in commercial drone solutions, enabling leading industries to process aerial imagery into actionable business intelligence. Specialized in drone manufacturing and aerial data processing, Delair-Tech offers end-to-end UAV solutions, including hardware, software and services. Delair-Tech counts 120 employees and is represented in more than 80 countries with 150 resellers worldwide.
Prior to founding Delair-Tech, Michael worked in the Oil&Gaz Industry, first in Schlumberger and then Perenco. He held various engineering and field positions, onshore and offshore, in all part of the world – Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Africa and France.
In 2010, he laid the foundations for Delair-Tech and designed the first BVLOS UAV prototype to take full advantage of commercial drone technology in industry-specific environments such as Oil&Gaz, Power&Utilities, Geospatial, Agriculture, Defense. Delair-Tech was founded in March 2011 with 3 co-founders.
Michael holds a MSc Physics from Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, France.
Michael is passionate about science, technologies and entrepreneurship. He is a glider pilot and loves mountain sports. As side project, he built the smallest long-range human powered autonomous submarine, for a dive across the English Channel. Discover The Pilot Fish Project here: http://www.projetpoissonpilote.com/en/
From your perspective, which industry vertical (construction, mining, agriculture, oil&gas, etc.) offers the highest potential according to cost and time savings?
Construction is the most mature market because it’s quite simple, however, not the biggest one in term of potential. Infrastructure is one of the most Promising markets, it still needs some regulation evolution to show full potential. Agriculture is also very promising and will benefit soon from technological improvements.
We focus on all three verticals with dedicated and complete solutions. Addressing multiple verticals is a way to implement major synergies on the core technology and necessary infrastructures (hardware, software and services).
Which of the following challenges do you consider most important and why? Cloud software, drone delivery, BVLOS, multifunctional applications, hybrid platform (VTOL/fixed-wing), operational standards or others?
It is obvious that data processing software is paramount in the drone value creation. It is the final step of a process that aims at providing actionable business intelligence to an end customer. It must be specific enough to bring substantial added value to the end customer but generic enough to be scalable and economical. It must be dedicated to vertical applications, in order to meet the operational needs of the end users and integrate seamlessly into their existing processes.
This is a promising field that is directly benefiting from larger trends like data-science and computer vision.
However, the main challenge is now to be able to deliver these complete drone solutions in any part of the world, on a daily basis, and become the trusted UAV partner to all businesses eager to integrate them into their daily processes with immediate ROI.
Do you think that the Hardware market is saturated and do you agree that Software takes the lead for pushing the UAV efficiency?
6 years ago, hardware was the hype. Today it is software. However, in the B2B UAV market, both are inseparable and should be considered as a whole. B2C drones are cost driven. Standardised and mass-produced, they are now very cost-effective machines, with very generic sensors and workflows, and no real specificities for vertical applications.
B2B drones, however, are ROI driven. They need to meet demanding requirements that are mandatory in the professional markets, regarding safety, regulation compliance and data quality. The purchase price and recurring costs matter less if the savings generated to compensate for them. There is and will be a market for high-end B2B UAVs having enhanced performance, data quality and safety, which will cost more but make the overall solution more efficient.
The Apple model is often used as a metaphor to this market and I perfectly agree: apple is a B2C company producing consumer products for the public. However, very rarely do we see iPhones used by professionals as an industrial tool on construction sites or oil fields.
What are the most important parts of an UAV eco-system (end-to-end solution)?
A complete UAV solution counts at least 4 main ‘building blocks’:
- A UAV for the data acquisition phase
- A trained UAV operator, to carry out the data acquisition mission
- A Data processing software
- Data-processing experts
For the UAV industry to develop harmoniously, profit needs to be shared fairly between all these stakeholders. The data processing part is paramount, but cannot exist without the rest.