Objectif Drone deploys its machines for new uses

Faced with Chinese or American giants, French drone manufacturers are focusing on specialized segments. Created in 2019 in Argelès-sur-Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales), the company Objectif Drone (about ten employees) first specialized in the fight against the proliferation of processionary caterpillars. Its Ares drone quickly positioned itself as an alternative to insecticide spraying. Before capturing other sectors.

“In France as in Europe, the professional uses of drones are exploding, observes Olivier Careau, president and founder of Objectif Drone. Agricultural treatments, insect control, moss removal, spreading… We would never have imagined, in 2019, the success we are experiencing today. And it’s not over because new areas of activity are opening up to us. »

Uncomplicated models

In its workshop, Objectif Drone assembles from A to Z two models of approved drones: Atlas and Ares. Both are built around a carbon frame but one is a quadcopter type while the second has eight motors. They are equipped with a GPS positioning system, an onboard camera coupled with video feedback to view the target from a distance, as well as spraying equipment (pump, lance and hose, etc.).

“The design of our drones is deliberately simple because we have reasoned in terms of ease of piloting, prepeats the director of Objectif drone who has twenty years of experience in model aircraft. However, our models are very reliable, fairly light and reasonably priced (from 8,000 euros excluding tax but count 20,000 to 30,000 euros with options, editor’s note). In addition, we are one of the last manufacturers to provide after-sales service for our machines. »

In 2022, the company, which achieved a turnover of one million euros, tripled its production by delivering 130 drones.

Mandatory training

Piloting a recreational drone weighing more than 800 grams requires a professional qualification, the CATD (Certificate of Aptitude for Remote Pilot Drones) including theoretical training and practical training (80 hours on average). Objectif Drone has therefore developed a certifying training platform to prepare for the exam (over ten days). But beyond this flight school, no drone is sold without prior five-day face-to-face training.

“Flying a drone for professional use in a hostile environment requires a certain technicality, learning as well as information on risk prevention, explains Olivier Careau. We develop skills for all types of missions and assistance in mastering tools: photogrammetry, improvement of shots, post-production, editing…”

Last year, Objectif Drone trained nearly 200 pilots on its Argelès-sur-Mer platform and on a base initiated by one of its customers, in Chambord: “Some of our customers are opening small pilot development branches all over France, welcomes the leader. A real community has been created around us and the mutual support is amazing”.

Cleaning of photovoltaic panels

Access to inaccessible or difficult-to-navigate places, real-time inspection, precise technical data, rapid return on investment… The drone used for construction sites, particularly in the construction sector, ticks all the boxes. And gives rise to new vocations. Printer at Free lunch, Sébastien Pintard, a drone enthusiast, first turned to aerial videos before specializing in the cleaning of photovoltaic panels and roofs via his company Vision R, based in Prades-le-Lez (Hérault). Following an internship on the Objectif Drone platform and the acquisition of an Ares model, he teamed up with Ludovic Charpentier, director of BC Drone.

“The fact of being two makes the interventions safe because the tension of the hose can destabilize the drone at any time”, explains Sébastien Pintard.

With an average cost of 6 euros per m2, cleaning by drone is much more economical (10 euros per m2 for a classic method), faster (a roof of 200 m2 is treated in a quarter of an hour), more ecological too , the sprayed products being biodegradable.

Roofs, facades, solar panels…Vision R has already had several missions to its credit. A major construction site at Rungis is also under negotiation.

“It is a sealing cleaning of a roof of 20,000 m2, confides the young leader. Other projects are underway and we would like to be able to develop in Occitania. »

Greenhouse bleaching

For its part, Objectif Drone is delighted with the enthusiasm aroused by its drones, which are the source of new business creations. Its order book is always full and if the customers are for the time being located mainly in France, the company plans to deploy in neighboring countries, in particular in Belgium and Spain.

To capture the buoyant agricultural greenhouse bleaching market, the company is preparing to launch a new drone, rolling this time, called Pégase.

“Blanching regulates the temperature and hygrometry of greenhouses to promote optimal yield. Thanks to this process, the greenhouse can lose up to 5°. If until now bleaching was done by helicopter, the drone offers new possibilities, assures the manager. With its 200 meters of pipes, Pégase will be able to spray the shading layer much more precisely and more uniformly. We will thus continue to adapt to the market by manufacturing specific drones by application. Our vision is very pragmatic. »

To consolidate his company, Olivier Careau has just brought into the capital an investor whose name he kept silent.