As the first drone operator in the Netherlands, software company Falcker is allowed to perform drone flights out of the sight of the drone pilot with Percepto’s drone-in-a-box system. This paves the way to carry out automated inspections of industrial installations and security applications. The first flights with the system are scheduled for April. In the near future, expansion to Germany and Belgium is on the programme.

Beyond visual line of sight

The Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring drone box system from Percepto consists of a number of components. The basis is a weatherproof drone that is equipped with a high-resolution RGB camera and a FLIR thermal imager. The drone takes off independently from a docking station, and then flies routine inspection emissions.

The camera images from the drone are directly processed in a cloud application, developed by Falcker. The drone can also perform ad hoc flights in the event of emergencies, such as a fire or security breach. At the end of each flight, the drone returns to the box independently, to be charged there for a next flight.

The essence of the system is that there is no need to be a drone pilot on site to control the drone. Instead, an operator is watching remotely from the control room. This means that the drone flies out of sight of the operator, also referred to as BVLOS ().

Very strict requirements are imposed on such drone flights in accordance with the laws and regulations. After a long course of intensive consultation with the Inspectorate Environment and Transport, Falcker finally got the green light this week to be able to use the system.

Next step: international roll-out

Duco Boer (CIO Falcker) welcomes the issuance of the operational authorization. “We are the first operator in the Netherlands to use this system in practice with our customers. The preconditions are that the drone may only be over controlled territory — read: own terrain — and in controlled airspace or used. This paves the way for the inspection applications we intended.”

Next week, a Percepto team will travel from Israel to Rotterdam, to get the system ready for use. In addition, Falcker will complete an intensive training process next week, in which a number of pilots and software specialists will be certified to install, operate the system and perform maintenance work at customers.

Falcker wants to quickly speed up the commissioning and international rollout of the system. “The first flights with the system are scheduled for April, at a tank terminal. As a next step in the BVLOS process, we want to start applying for BVLOS permits in a number of neighbouring countries, starting in Germany and Belgium,” says Boer.

More information

Dutch parties interested in the Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring drone box system can turn to Falcker. This company is a value added reseller of Percepto in the Netherlands and is certified for setting up and executing BVLOS drone operations.