Civilian drones: a sector taking off in Bordeaux

on 9 December 2016

For several years now, Bordeaux and its region have been a pilot territory in the field of civilian drones.

The number of initiatives for supporting businesses in the sector has grown:

  • Organization of the AETOS cluster,
  • Running the UAV Show since 2010,
  • The new Test and Services Centre for Unmanned Systems (CESA Drones).

With such assets, the region has become the leader in terms of expertise and with the development of innovative startups positioned in such diverse areas as sea drones, “lifesaving” drones, or drones for industrial site surveillance.

Bordeaux’s gems showcased

They were the highlight of the last edition of the UAV Show, held in October at Bordeaux Merignac, the European event for stakeholders in the civilian drones field.
This event attracted 70 exhibitors and 2,000 qualified professionals, showcasing some of Bordeaux’s gems over two days.

R&DRONE is a mechatronic research unit, created at the end of 2012, which specializes in designing unmanned systems for air, sea and land, for professionals in the civilian and military sectors.
The unit researches sea drones with Droneo, which can map the seabed and analyze water quality. This highly successful drone is manageable and autonomous in the water, and has won over clients such as water or environment sector professionals.
The startup Skeyetech presented a world first at the UAV Show, a drone that is 100% capable of functioning without any human intervention thanks to a connected recharging station.
The drone was developed for the company Drone Protect Service, based in Arcachon. It is designed for surveillance and security of industrial sites, and is set off by sensors at the slightest alert.
The startup was founded in 2014 at Bordeaux Technowest by three students from Ensam Bordeaux. The company is now recruiting and preparing for fundraising.
BeTomorrow, designing video games for mobile platforms, is also working on a program for medical assistance using drones.
Drone for Life is a drone that can transport biological samples and medication into urban areas, for the Bordeaux University Hospital.
The first drones will perform autonomous rounds between Pellegrin and Haut-Levêque hospitals between now and January 2017.
Be Tomorrow is coordinating the Drones For Life Consortium (7 partners) which made the first public flight by the STORK-X8 drone at the ITS show for intelligent transport, held in Bordeaux in 2015.

Innovation and assets in Gironde

In the Gironde region, startups have support from an ecosystem that assists them in their development.
No fewer than 80 regional structures are involved in developing the sector, with the AETOS cluster, university laboratories, SMEs, and large groups.

The AETOS Cluster, an Aquitaine cluster for Drone Services and Systems, unites a regional network of top industrial and technological skills for creating and using drone systems in the civilian markets.
The cluster was launched in 2010 in partnership with the Thales group, and is the point of entry for companies wishing to invest in the civilian and military drones sector, drawn by the high quality of the ecosystem.
The Nouvelle Aquitaine Regional Council has launched a call for expressions of interest, “Drone City”, including the first “Drones for life” project which aims to get the region involved in using drones in the city.
Finally, for the past four years, the Gironde region has been host to the first European zone for flight trials of civilian drone applications, with a 28km² testing zone.
CESA Drones SAS, created at the initiative of Bordeaux Technowest, is a testing and services center for conducting mid-flight drone tests in optimal safety conditions for both the equipment and for people.
Four zones are now operational in the Gironde and Landes regions, of up to 50km and 2,000 feet.
CESA Drones also provides services and personalized expertise, as well as training for remote pilots.

Top-level training

With several new Master’s degrees at the University of Bordeaux and the National Polytechnic Institute, the drones sector has confirmed its standing in the education sector in Bordeaux.

Two training modules dedicated to drones are provided at the ENSEIRB and the IMA.
Besides CESA Drones, the region plans to develop new training programs for drone pilots.
A new player in drone pilot training has emerged in Arcachon, DPS (Drones Protect System), a partner of the innovative unmanned drone surveillance program Ypax, run by the startup Skeyetech.
Finally, the company DrobotX has announced that it is opening the first gaming space in Merignac in December. This is a new concept, an indoor space for robots and drones.

A new leisure space for drone-lovers and gamers, both young and old!

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