New platform allows drone-use on demand for business applications

Proximus, SkeyDrone and DroneMatrix have recently joined forces to develop an integrated platform, allowing drones to perform on-demand missions for business purposes. This platform is called the ‘6th NeTWorK’. After a first phase of commercial and technical testing, if successful, the three partners will bring this service to the market in a B2B environment before the end of 2021.

Companies trying to integrate the use of drones in their business operations in Belgium are facing many obstacles: drone technology requires a lot of expertise, regulation is strict and complex, and commercial services are still emerging. Even with these difficulties, the advantages of drones use (such as task and cost efficiency) are clear to many innovative businesses.

That is why telecom operator Proximus, drone air traffic service provider SkeyDrone and drone hard- and software developer DroneMatrix have decided to join forces to tackle these obstacles. They are working on the development of an integrated platform, allowing drones to fly over Belgium in a controlled and secured way (compliant with Belgian and European regulations) within and beyond the visual line of sight for specific missions.

Each partner in the new cooperation brings a specific set of skills and knowledge to the table.

“We have been developing drones and their application software since the dawn of the industry in Belgium”, says Frank Vanwelkenhuyzen, Chairman of DroneMatrix. “That R&D investment has put us in pole position to be a partner in this venture. It’s a good thing that we can focus on the know-how we have acquired here at home to develop this new technology”.

Proximus will add expertise in Mobile 4G and 5G networks, system integration and data analytics: “We consider this partnership to be very important, as it is a first and very concrete initiative whereby drones will use Proximus highly performant network and analytics for various missions like surveillance, asset and safety monitoring or logistics”, says Anne-Sophie Lotgering, Executive Vice-President Enterprise Business Unit of Proximus.

SkeyDrone – a subsidiary company of air traffic regulator skeyes – adds their expertise and competences in aerial traffic management and regulatory compliance. “Our interest in drones is clear. Our main concern is always safety of all air traffic, be it manned or unmanned. We have supported the drone sector from the very beginning because we believe in its great economic value. And we are looking forward to provide our services in a world where the skies are being regulated like clockwork. That is why, as a forerunner in unmanned air traffic, we are fully committed to this collaboration”, says Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director of SkeyDrone.

This project called the ‘6th NeTWorK’ will start off with a first phase of technical development in 2021, alongside an extended market study. If the outcome is positive, the second phase will contain the commercialisation of the various B2B drone services by the end of that same year.

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