[StartMeUp] Dronotique: drones with artificial intelligence

Drones have been in the spotlight in recent years – because they have a wide range of applications, from security to infrastructure maintenance, geophysics, logistics, and others… Aurélien Tricault, the founder of Dronotique, fully understands this and is working on a prototype drone that can analyze its environment autonomously.

After all, what’s a drone? It’s an airborne, land or seaborne (or undersea) device, with no onboard crew, that can be remotely controlled or programmed to move autonomously. And governed by stringent regulations applicable to anyone using them – the general public, or private or public operators.

Dronotique, yesterday and tomorrow

Aurélien Tricault, fondateur de Dronotics et participant à StartMeUpI had been a software developer for more than 15 years. I was also a microlight fan. When the company I had been working for shut down, I set out looking for a new career,” recalls Aurélien Tricault. Drone design immediately came to mind, “as it matched my skills: mechanics, electronics, IT… and of course flying, which I enjoyed.”  He then landed two contracts with the geophysics specialist Géoreva, and with France’s national police force.

At the same time, he was investigating the limits of the equipment and functionalities of the drones available on the market. Only a few big international brands offered packages that incorporated sensors or cameras. And in many cases the drones weren’t autonomous: they could move from A to B, over a short distance, but were incapable of identifying a landing zone or new obstacles along their route.

Our market is aimed exclusively at professionals. Our smallest drones are 50cm in diameter, and our biggest are up to 1 metre excluding rotors.” And the potential is enormous: monitoring railway track conditions, inspecting wind turbines, mapping and mine-clearing old battlefields… Dronotique drones will be able to detect cracks in wind turbine blades and report them. Or overfly any specified big area and focus on mapping sections where it detects ground magnetic anomalies. For logistics, these drones will be able to conduct inventories in hangars, move around, read barcodes, and send the collected data in real time. A vast range of functionalities to be developed, thanks in large part to artificial intelligence.

StartMeUp, “to see more clearly”

I was looking for backing. The Chamber of Commerce told me about Poool and I submitted my application to participate in StartMeUp,” says Aurélien Tricault, who joined the second 2019 promo last May.

I’m good with technology, but I clearly needed help with marketing and business strategy. As it happens, I discovered Business Model Canva, which enabled me to submit my ideas and make my project more coherent.

He adds: “I also came to understand the importance of market studies. I had never done anything like that. It enabled me to identify my competitors and potential partners.” And then? “I’m looking at Emergys, which is the logical next step after Le Poool.” To be continued…