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September 28, 2023 4:03 am

Science And Aerospace

Seeing what doesn’t exist yet. That’s our strength.

Science And

Seeing what doesn’t exist yet. That’s our strength.

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Making sparks fly: introducing the geocaging technology that keeps Groupe F’s pyro-drones in exactly the right place!

Making sparks fly: introducing the geocaging technology that keeps Groupe F’s pyro-drones in exactly the right place!

Image credit score: Nicolas Chavance / Groupe F

Étienne, are you able to present the story behind this picture?

Étienne Compain (Groupe F): The image reveals 1,400 small drones, and ten giant, pyrotechnically-equipped drones – six Matrice 600s and 5 Matrice 300s – flying within the coronary heart of Geneva harbour in Switzerland, 900 metres from the take-off zone and 100 meters from Geneva’s well-known 140-metre-high water jet. The very best drone is flying at an altitude of 500 metres!

The present was a part of town’s “Feu ô Lac” festivities in Could 2023, in entrance of an viewers of 800,000 over three days. Fairly merely, it was the most important drone present in Europe by far! The present mobilized 86 individuals on web site for a fortnight, and was the results of two months of design and 6 months of manufacturing! What’s extra, the present was synonymous with quite a few European firsts: it was the primary time that so many drones had flown concurrently in the identical house and the primary time that giant pyro-drones had flown on this approach as a part of a quasi-autonomous fleet.

What had been the technical challenges and constraints related to such a present, and the way did you meet them?

Étienne Compain (Groupe F): Essentially the most complicated problem was fairly merely to fly these giant drones in a fleet at evening over the lake, with fireworks and no guide piloting, comparatively near an viewers, synchronising on a timecode… at a top of 500 metres! We did not have any security answer that might permit us to do that, so we turned to Thales’s ScaleFlyt Geocaging answer as a way of holding the drones of their flight zone with out exterior assist, i.e. a totally autonomous answer on the drones, all coupled with Dronavia’s Zephyr-CC Flight Termination System.

Relive the occasion right here:


Why is this instance a textbook case of the usage of geocaging?

Paul de Courcel (Thales): Thales designed ScaleFlyt Geocaging to guard individuals and property round drone operations. That is often carried out manually, with a devoted distant management for every drone. Within the case of Groupe F, that is clearly not possible due to the variety of drones and the encircling darkness. Étienne understood this completely when he heard about our product. After contacting Thales, we met with him in a short time. This assembly confirmed his imaginative and prescient of the product, and we rapidly introduced Dronavia into our discussions to create a product combining ScaleFlyt Geocaging and the Zephyr-CC Flight Termination System (FTS). This collaboration took the type of a minimum of month-to-month conferences between the three of us, all the time targeted on offering Groupe F with the answer they wanted.

Ludovic, are you able to inform us extra in regards to the complementary nature of the Zephyr-CC FTS?

Ludovic Pelletey (Dronavia): We had been concerned in supplying the so-called Flight Termination System, by providing Groupe F these equipment that combine geocaging capabilities. Geocaging offers a sign of the drone’s place, and sends a cut-off command to the FTS if it approaches the restrict of its zone of motion. On this situation, the Flight Termination System may intervene to cease the drone’s engines if a drone had been to flee the management of the automated present programme and that of the distant pilots who had been current within the occasion of a mishap. The flight termination answer we offer, Zephyr-CC, is customized to the Matrice 300 and Matrice 600 used on the present, and integrates Thales’s ScaleFlyt Geocaging answer. 

Paul de Courcel (Thales): Engine shutdown automation is predicated round a system that’s fully unbiased of the flight controller, and has a positioning system that’s unbiased of the latter. This technique is right for operations the place a minimum of one of many following standards is met: if the drone not clearly seen, if there’s a want for brief response time (to attenuate the dimensions of emergency buffers), or if a number of drones are getting used. Groupe F’s operations meet all these standards!

Image credit: Anthony Rosier (high), Nicolas Chavance (backside) / Groupe F

What was the suggestions from the present in Geneva?

Étienne Compain (Groupe F): The general public on web site had been very impressed by the dimensions of the present (900 metres throughout) and likewise appreciated the inventive dimension of the tableaux, notably the assembly on Lake Geneva of the historic boat Neptune and “our” Neptune fashioned by drones! Many occasion and audiovisual professionals had been additionally current to find the present, and right here too the suggestions was wonderful.

Lastly, this present was a real tour de pressure for Groupe F, enabling us to face out from the gang and present what is feasible in Europe, whereas complying with European laws and security circumstances. We at the moment are getting ready a good looking present within the gardens of the Château de Versailles (August 15, 2023), and we’ve got some attention-grabbing initiatives developing in 2024 elsewhere in Europe.

What are the prospects for the partnership between these gamers?

Ludovic Pelletey (Dronavia): The Geneva occasion was the beginning of an awesome three-way journey, with some thrilling challenges forward. Trying ahead, this geocaging performance is about to develop in different sectors, with additional collaborations already underway: for agricultural drones the place the operator is way from the plane; web site surveillance with an off-site operator; or logistics linked to long-distance deliveries in predefined flight corridors… We have now mastered the answer and the applied sciences, that are safe, and due to proofs of idea such because the Groupe F instance, we’re “unlocking” use instances that beforehand wouldn’t have been conceivable!

Paul de Courcel (Thales): And at Thales we’re delighted to be contributing to those advances with our ScaleFlyt Geocaging product, hand in hand with our companions.


> Groupe F web site:

> Dronavia web site :

> Thales’s ScaleFlyt geocaging answer:

> Discover out extra about how Zephyr CC ScaleFlyt Geocaging works (video in French):

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