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Drone manufacturer Delair expands computer vision platform to form standalone Alteia

Delair announced this week it will expand its drone-data platform to form another and separate company called Alteia, reports The new company focuses exclusively on developing and selling the AI-based visual intelligence platform that Delair launched last year.

Based in Toulouse, France, Delair builds fixed-wing commercial drones used in sectors like utilities, mining, construction and agriculture. Yet, while the drone business grows steadily, the company’s data platform has grown more rapidly.

By separating that platform into a standalone company, it will be easier to market for use in a wider array of services that employ computer vision, according to Delair CEO, Michael de Lagarde, who now heads the new company.

He said, “We developed this service to process the massive amounts of visual data being collected. And to help our customers make sense of it, we had to gather the data, analyse it, and deliver real business information that could be used by our industrial customers.”

Delair made its name due to their BVLOS drones. That enables long flight ranges that allow clients to gather massive amounts of data. While consumer drones had initially fueled the market expansion, Delair had always been focused on commercial and industrial uses, which today is now the biggest market. de Largarde explained that while the company’s hardware business continues to expand, Delair’s drone platform is seeing a faster increase in customers and potential opportunities.

The cloud-based platform receives data directly from drones’ computer vision systems and then melds it with other visual data to create a more all-round view. As the platform is designed to deliver models in real-time, the AI component is critical to creating 2D and 3D models that are detailed enough to help customers make rapid decisions.

While originally developed in-house for use with its own drones, Delair quickly realised there was widespread interest within the industry. Not only can the platform work with any drone, but work with most computer vision systems, including LIDAR and a growing array of IoT devices.

The potential for this visual intelligence platform attracted a partnership with Intel back in 2017 to help power the Intel Insight Platform. The following year, Intel made an eight-figure investment in Delair to further develop the analytics tools.

Launching Alteia as a standalone company will help attract new funding in 2021 de Lagarde said. This announcement also included the disclosure of several high-profile partnerships, in aprticular, with GE Digital and Microsoft.

GE Digital will work with Alteia to develop AI-powered solutions for utilities and with Microsoft, Alteia will make its visual intelligence capabilities available to companies on the Azure cloud platform.

Alteia also has signed a deal with Enedis, one of Europe’s largest power grid operators. Enedis will use Alteia’s platform to deploy computer vision and AI to automate the inspection of its electricity networks and maintenance operations. The new service is to be rolled out across France in 2021.

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