Photo by Igor Fraga, @igorfragafoto
We talked to David Benavente, CEO at Embention, about drone components and UAM and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
David Benavente: It has not been easy for anyone to change their daily routine and wake up one day thinking that everything has changed outside. Many still are not taking this virus seriously. Fortunately, my whole family is fine. We have adapted to these new circumstances and have taken all steps to minimize risk and prevent the COVID-19.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Embention.
David Benavente: I am the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Embention. I am an aeronautical engineer and software engineer also. I started my professional career for several years in the USA and Canada designing and manufacturing the software for the control systems of different aircrafts, until I thought it was time to return home to Spain.
I had a few ideas to innovate in the aerospace and drone markets and I decided to start my own business. I founded the company Embention in 2007.
At the beginning, the idea was different. As we started our activity with the development of forest firefighting systems. It was a guided civil bomb with a load of flame-retardant or extinguishing materials, that allowed direct firefighting and chemical firewall creation. This system was guided by GPS to impact in the fire areas. It was developed over two years but it was suspended for various reasons.
With this project we acquired deep knowledge and experience that served us to change our business model. We focused our activity in the UAV and UAM industry creating a reliable, versatile and compatible system, the Veronte Autopilot, that is able to control any unmanned vehicle either aircraft such as: multirotors, helicopters, airplanes, VTOL, blimps… as well as ground vehicles, surface vehicles and many others.
For this reason, at Embention we have been working hard in this field, continuously improving our core product, the Veronte autopilot, and evolving together with it to offer the best quality, performance, reliability and definitely, the best experience possible.
How does Embention innovate?
David Benavente: First of all, Embention is positioned as a leading drone company being our core expertise in the development of autopilots & components for UAVs.
We work with the latest state of the art technologies in this field. Our team is composed of 60 workers with a variety of profiles, mainly divided into the areas of software, hardware, mechanical engineering, production and integration support and we owe it to our team that Embention has become a benchmark in the development of autopilots and components for drones.
We constantly invest in continuous innovation and R&D policies, with strict validation & verification processes to ensure the high quality of our products and providing a safety assurance according to DO160, DO178 / ED-12, DO254, Stanag 4703& 4586 established aircraft standards.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
David Benavente: Despite Covid-19 pandemic, the UAV and drone sector is in exponential growth. This is the reason why more and more companies are bringing new ideas to this industry and we are involved in this market. This sector needs exceptional engineering knowledge and committed technical support to ensure the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of the UAV project. The UAV and drone sector will become the key piece of the urban air mobility, either for goods transportation and for persons transportation, likely to be offered in the near future.
For example, to maintain control and avoid the spread of the COVID-19, we have launched a solution to this serious problem we are currently facing with our TS150 Tethered Drone. It can fly continuously during all the operation without the need to replace the batteries or landing for refueling. TS150 Tethered Drone is the perfect tool to control people’s movements and identify possible positive cases. The COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading fast around the world showing the need to use revolutionary technology to relieve this situation.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
David Benavente: In these uncertain times, we all had to adapt to these new changes and restrictions. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19 many companies have implemented measures to ensure the financial stability of the company. The current pandemic situation has impacted their business significantly, and as a result, they find that they must make some difficult personnel decisions such as working-hour reduction within employment or resolve contracts with other employees. The spread of the coronavirus disease has been rapidly escalating and just to mention a few difficulties, the material of some of our products are made in other factories and this lasts months, so we are depending on their production and delivery times. In addition, the policies of each government and country are different but the current situation is delaying these processes. It is not in our hands. We must adapt to these new circumstances and to be patient as much as we can until we overcome this global pandemic.
How do you plan to stay in the game in the market?
David Benavente: As I mentioned before, the UAV industry is growing very fast. The faster a company can have its UAVs ready to fly and to be used, the faster it will grow in this sector, for that reason at Embention we offer good engineering support to our customers which is crucial to help them to compete in this dynamic market. And in the autopilot industry there are many options but not all are reliable.
What makes Embention staying in the game in this market is providing an autopilot system that combines flexibility, quality, safety, efficiency and reliability in one system when other companies only offer one or two of the mentioned features.
Our Veronte Autopilot firstly is the unique flight control system designed according to the most demanding standards which are the DO178C & DO254 standards. At the same time, our system can provide to the end user the libreity that he is looking for once he defines the configuration of his system, as the Veronte Autopilot is a highly versatile control system that can meet the most demanding requirements for any kind of unmanned vehicle. All this thanks to our excellent engineering team and to the continuous innovation and R&D policies to maintain our products as the state of the art.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
David Benavente: We rely on the use of our Cloud, it permits various users to edit documents from remote locations. It is a very effective tool for our employees who are working from home or are on a business trip for engineering support. There are other applications that allow us to see if the person we are looking to contact from our company is active or on leave or he is away for a meeting.
All the interviews and the presentations were achieved through remote meetings, including the training such as the risk prevention and a training for the integration of our technology. We work with other applications that help us with clients who can know the status of their project in real time, they can follow up without having to have direct communication.
We have internal communication via chat between employees, it helps us prevent moving from one room to another in order to communicate with each other.
General internal communication is also done via chat. Many of our colleagues use the mail for important issues and with this we prevent the agglomeration of communications that are instantaneous to leave the mail with the relevant information.
Your final thoughts?
David Benavente: Current times have provided us with great advances, new approaches and the projects for urban air mobility are no more part of science fiction, but they are a tangible reality and it will be common in our daily life. The possibilities offered by drones are very wide and have become essential to successfully achieve virus control without putting unnecessary risk to operators and security agents. The UAVs implementation is unstoppable in more and more areas and sectors, leading to a total technological revolution. At Embention, we are working to make that happen because we believe in our innovation capabilities and technological excellence will help to enable drones to populate our skies.