France grants first approvals for automated surveillance UAVs
France's Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGAC) has given approval for the first fully-automated surveillance drone to be operated in France.
Azur Drones, which is based in France and operates in partnership with contractors in the United States and the Middle East, secured the contract this week.
The DGAC's approval is ‘unprecedented' because any authorised flight scenario in France generally requires a qualified pilot.
Now Azur Drone's Skeyetech drones are able to fly over private areas, Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), day or night, in urban areas, under simple supervision of a remote operator.
According to the company, the system will be directly operated by a security guard with no pilot license. The drone will thus be used to patrol the area or provide valuable aerial insights in case of an alarm.
Azur Drones CEO Jean-Marc Crépin says the DGAC's approval is a ‘landmark event' for professional civil drones.
"Azur Drones unlocks huge markets that are currently restrained by the complexity of common drone solutions implementation. Unlike standard piloted solutions, our systems are easy-to-use, operational 24/7, precise and reliable."
Managing director Stéphane Morelli explains that the company has been working in close collaboration with DGAC services for the last 18 months.
“Our system had to comply with the civilian aviation authorities' requirements in terms of safety, reliability and quality. A process that was obviously very demanding due to the fully automated character of our system,” Morelli says.
Azur Drones says it is in discussion with authorities in other countries to get similar approvals. The company aims to make the autonomous drone a ‘standard in the security market', both in France and abroad.
Recently Azur Drones and technology firm Genetic announced a technology partnership that integrates Skeyetech drones with Genetec's Security Center.
"With the ability to be on the scene in a snap of a finger and provide rich contextual information, drones allow operators to make fast and accurate operational decisions. Whether used for automated perimeter patrol, investigation of a remote incident, or support to response teams, this integration allows for information to be collected and leveraged directly through the Genetec Security Center interface,” commented Genetec director of the partner engagement group, Jordan Jaumeau.
In June 2018, Azur Drones raised more than €3 million to enhance development and production of its UAVs.
Azur Drones operates Skeyetech, a fully automated drone for the surveillance of sensitive sites; Flying Guard, a tethered drone system for long-lasting surveillance operations; and Flying Scout, a long-distance drone for wide-area surveillance.