“We don’t say we’re in the drone business.”
That’s what Delair CEO Michael de Lagarde told me when we met for coffee during a quick trip he had made from his home in France to San Francisco.
“We are in the physical asset management business.”
That’s basically an industry-jargon way of saying, “we are an aerial data management business.”
Delair is one of the rising stars in the drone industry as of late. The French drone company has seen rapid growth over the past year with fund raising from Intel in October, the acquisition of Airware in November, and launch of its new delair.ai software platform last month. And De Lagarde said the company has plans to hire dozens of employees this year.
But while De Lagarde is optimistic that the drone industry has plenty of room to grow, something he said caught me as more cautiously optimistic, than simply optimistic.
“We are playing for the long run,” he said. “Drones are the means, but they’re not the end game.”
And with that, De Lagarde explained that the his company is not putting all of its eggs in the drone basket.
“Our platform can ingest drone data, but we can also ingest IoT data or satellite data. It’s complimentary sources of info. Drones are good for small sites and producing high-resolution imagery. Satellite imagery is good for large sites, but produce lower resolution imagery.”
Other companies before Delair have been looking to merge the two data sources — drones and satellites — but typically the merger goes the other way. Canadian company SimActive was a provider of mapping and photogrammetry software for manned aircraft and satellite data, but is now expanding their mature processing platform to include the drone market. And one of the market leaders in fusing the two aerial data sets is Airbus Aerial, which has taken Airbus’ constellation of high-resolution satellites along and merged it with fleets of unmanned aircraft to collect, analyze and distribute a variety of aerial datasets.