Regulatory changes set to come into force next month are expected to boost Australia’s commercial drone industry. From September 29, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has relaxed rules to allow drones under 2kg to be flown for commercial purposes without the need for a licence, which is good new for UAV cloud-based software company Propeller Aero.

The Australian company works with commercial drone operators to provide surveying and mapping data to clients across the industrial sector, including quarries, landfill, construction and mining.

“The market is about to enter a new phase of maturity,” Francis Vierboom, Propeller Aero co-founder and co-CEO, told Which-50. “Both in the USA and here there are big regulatory changes happening over the next 30 days which allow a lot more people to fly a drone for commercial purposes without any pre-existing approval from any airspace authorities.

“We are definitely big believers that most of the changes are going to be about really growing the market and growing the need for useful ways to analyse and use the data that they’ve got, and that’s Propeller’s focus.”

The Sydney-based business was founded in 2014 and today has users in more than 60 countries. Australia’s high labour costs, environmental and safety regulations and experience with large infrastructure projects has provided fertile ground for the start-up.

“It all adds up to a country that’s a really great place to be developing a product that tackles these particular challenges, because they are challenges Australian organisations are uniquely focused on solving,” Vierboom said.

Last week Propeller Aero launched a product called AeroPoints, smart ground control points with built-in GPS that capture accurate positional data.

Rory San Miguel, Propeller’s co-founder and co-CEO explains, “Drones can fly over a site and capture incredibly valuable data for surveyors and engineers in just minutes. But if you want accurate data, you need to spend hours on site creating ground control points before the drone flight. These calibration points are critical for a reliable results, but they add a significant amount of time, labour and expense. Now there is a simple solution: AeroPoints make the calibration points their own smart device.”

Aeropoint
Propeller Aero’s AeroPoint

To use AeroPoints, customers simply lay them down, fly their drone, and then pick them up again.

Earlier this month Propeller Aero announced a partnership with Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer DJI, providing an end-to-end surveying solution for the construction and mining industries.

“Deploying UAVs for surveying and inspection can significantly reduce costs, minimise workplace hazards and realise fundamental operational improvements especially for businesses that operate in quarries, construction sites and asset infrastructure,” said Michael Perry, DJI’s director of strategic partnerships.

“Being from Australia, Propeller Aero has had the considerable advantage of developing alongside the industries that have been using commercial UAVs since 2002; the platform is already integrating drone data into the existing work flows and processes that businesses are using.”

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