Drones are an undeniably exciting innovation. From the consumer market to commercial applications to military use, the idea of everything a drone system can do has captured the imagination of people all over the globe.

However, as with many inventions or new technologies, what a drone could conceivably accomplish is perhaps more exciting than what the average drone actually can get done, even in industrial settings. For as much hype as there is about drones improving business processes, saving major time and money and helping to reduce the risks employees face, there have been several significant stumbling blocks getting between the average drone system and the actual accomplishment of these objectives, most notably the need for a human pilot. While drone pilots are highly trained, meticulously certified and certainly effective at flying drones, there’s no denying there are drawbacks to requiring human operators.

Room for improvement – UAV Systems Development

A drone pilot’s job is what you would expect – launching, flying and landing the drone. Some pilots may also be tasked with collecting data, though this is typically the purview of a payload operator.

As talented as some drone pilots may be, the need to have a person handling the drone controller will always be a barrier between a drone and its potential. Human pilots not only introduce the possibility of human error, but even top pilots simply can’t match the precision of an automated drone. An excellent human pilot may be able to fly a perfect mission perhaps once or twice, but an automated drone flies a perfect mission every time. Even small errors or miscalculations made by a human pilot can result in major issues when it comes to flying critical missions and operating equipment that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Furthermore, while using a human pilot for a one-off project such as shooting aerial footage for a website may be worthwhile, having one for regular drone flights such as stockpile evaluation or surveying or one on-call for on-demand flights is nowhere near cost-effective. This eats into the monetary savings a drone should be enabling for an organization. Waiting on a pilot for an on-demand mission can also result in major damages when emergencies or incidents are occurring, especially in an industrial environment.

No matter how skilled these pilots may be, people simply aren’t the best choice for piloting a drone system, so we decided to take them out of the equation.

True automation has arrived in The Drone Industry

When we began developing our UAV design of our multitool drone for industrial use, we knew it had to be automated from end-to-end– the ability to operate without human intervention. To achieve true automation, we knew our drone would have to be able to launch, fly, collect and transmit data, land, be sheltered and complete all necessary maintenance without requiring the help of a person.

If the idea of a drone being able to fly both scheduled and on-demand missions with complete precision and zero help from a human pilot seems too futuristic, then welcome to the future. With the Airobotics’ drone system what we set out to accomplish has been accomplished. Just ask the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI).

A world’s first for Airobotics’ drone system

In March, after two years of tireless work, testing and product verification processes, our drone UAV system earned the world’s first certification for fully automated drone flights without a human pilot from the CAAI. With this certification, the regulator is essentially saying that where once only decisions made by human drone pilots could be trusted, the decisions undertaken by the Airobotics software system can now be trusted to be just as safe and reliable. In fact, these software system decisions have been shown to be safer and more reliable than those made by human pilots.

What this means for industry is that when an organization decides to use an Airobotics drone to improve business processes, the organization does not need to know how to operate or fly drones, and as you may have already guessed – no human pilot is required at all. Our system can handle launching, flying and landing automatically for both scheduled and on-demand flights on its own, all with absolute precision. Achieving this certification was the breakthrough needed to begin the drone revolution in industries and countries around the world.

What’s next?

With certified unmanned flights, Airobotics CEO Ran Krauss predicts the fully automated drone will become a standard workplace tool in agriculture and mining in 2017, calling it a defining year for drones. Airobotics also plans to receive unmanned flight certification from a number of aviation authorities in nations all over the globe, beginning with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia. Airobotics is also expanding into the United States.

Though Airobotics’ drone system was developed for industrial use, the unprecedented certification granted by the CAAI has us looking beyond industrial applications to the consumer market where fully automated drones could provide live traffic analysis, essential life-saving visibility and real-time information in emergency response situations, and more. Obtaining the world’s first certification for fully automated flight without a human pilot was an exciting first step, one that opens a world of possibilities.