Sebastián Macías, CEO & Founder at Dronfies Labs
Welcome to GUTMA “Meet Our Members” interview series where we feature a different member every month.
This month we speak to Sebastián Macías, CEO & Founder at Dronfies Labs. Thanks to Sebastiánfor taking the time to share Dronfies Labs’latest news, project updates, industry insights and trends.
The Dronfies Labs’ mission is to speed up the development of the drone industry, helping other companies to build their products and integrate new tools. They are collaborating with startups and companies around the world who are developing drone technology, helping them to deliver Dronfies Labs’ specialized IT services.
The Dronfies Labs journey began in early 2017 in Montevideo, Uruguay, when they were asked to create software to help security guards operate drones for security and surveillance purposes. There were many concerns both from the security agency and aeronautical authorities about drones executing automatic routines, in sparsely populated areas, taking pictures of private property.
Sebastián said: “It was a long trip that involved 500 testing flights, 2000 hours of software development, but also studying drone operations around the world, using the available documentation of FAA and showing to the CAA that this kind of operation could be possible with an adequate risk management.”
Following on from that, in 2019 the Unicef Innovation Fund selected Dronfies Labs to build an Unmanned Traffic Management system to enable humanitarian operations for their Drone Corridors in Sierra Leone, Kazakhstan and Malawi. Named PortableUTM, the system can be deployed using a personal computer in places without internet, transmitting UTM information using LoRa modules between the drones in the air.
The PortableUTM project has now been released as a Digital Public Good under MIT and GNU/GPL v3.0 licensing (depending on the component) and has been adapted for the Uruguayan Civil Aviation Authority who will use it for all commercial drone operations in the country, starting in early 2021.
In the future, Dronfies Labs will continue to refine PortableUTM, making it available for more use cases related to humanitarian purposes. They also aim to grow their development team, in terms of people and knowledge, continuing to support more companies and helping Civil Aviation Authorities in developing countries integrate UTM solutions.
Sebastián said: “UTM is a key piece of the drone ecosystem. The main challenge we have is speaking the language both of the authorities and the users, and creating a tool that makes sense for all parties. Making that bridge between people and seeing more drones flying is our main inspiration.”
They are looking for funding to continue expanding their operations in Europe, and are looking to partner with companies that need the talent required to speed up the development of their products.
Sebastián believes that there is an amazing future ahead for the drone industry. He predicts that drones will become a key asset in the urban environment, both for delivering supplies and for moving people. However he thinks that new ways of powering drones are required to get there and expects to see progression on this front over the next few years.
Find out more about Sebastián Macías and Dronfies Labs through LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebastian-dronfies or visit the Dronfies Labs website: https://dronfies.com to learn more about the business.
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