Almost two years after its foundation, we reviewed a radio interview conducted with the Co-Founder and CMO of Uali, Diego Montesano for the SER Industria Agency. In this talk, the history of Uali and how this innovative solution arises in an industry such as energy was reviewed. In addition, Diego comments on how the Uali service works, especially in the construction of drones, and what differentiates them from the competition.
Ser Industria: What is it like to create drones in Argentina?
To be honest, we find ourselves with the same complications that any type of entrepreneur or industry can face. Conceptually we started almost two years ago, my partner, Ian Bogado, had done an internship in a European drone company. We met at that moment and when we began to dialog we saw the opportunity. There weren’t any type of industrial type drones development in Argentina, so from there we started to do some research. This step took longer than production, which we started doing six months ago. In short, we spent a year and a half learning, testing and retesting the product. This category is completely new, there are only a few players that develop drones and even fewer developing industrial drones.
SI: Were you related to the manufacture of drones?
Diego: I am a publicist and I have a MBA, I had never been in the drones business.
I am intrested in new technologies since I have been involved in the enviroment for a while now, I founded a digital development agency in 2006 that later partnered with a larger company. But the truth is that I have never been involved with robotics, I’m not an engineer eitherm I don’t know about systems or programming, basically my thing is business, I loved the oportunity and everything worked arrount for me to give it a shot. Anyway, after getting the oportunity, one starts to getting involved and generating knowledge about the subject. This was a startup in a whole new category for me.
SI: What are the projects you are developing in Vaca Muerta?
Diego: There are some about which, for confidentiality reasons, I cannot elaborate. Today oil fields have security issues to cover. The basic item that we began to develop and, I would say that it is our workhorse, is to detect anomalies in the spaces. Keep in mind that a crew stops going from one place to another, travel distances are very long and also the weather conditions are not the best. The crew goes from one well to another to see if there is a problem. Many times you arrive at that place, a problem is detected, but there is no solution. What we do with drones is not only to arrive earlier to warn that there is a problem, but they can detect possible problems that are going to be generated in advance. This is possible since we train the AI algorithm the drone uses with many images so it learns from them. We do not make fewer people work, nor are we going to take resources from companies to save money. What we are going to do is optimize the crews, that instead of going from one place to another to see if there is a problem, they will directly solve it or anticipate the problem.
We are also working on other developments. Logically, delivery is one of them, I mean sending items from one place to another that, due to some circumstance, be it climatic or otherwise, cannot be done in a traditional way. It implies saving time, which in these industries is very strong money that companies lose.
SI: Are Uali drones totally manufactured in Argentina?
Diego: Generally when you think of drones, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical product and you imagine only the aerial activity. Keep in mind that drones can be of certain types. The three most basic are: air, land and water. We are experimenting today in two areas. The air, which is the one we already have in operation and in which we are already in the market. We are currently developing the aquatic drone, reasearch and Testing fases. Our software development is local. We started working with the developers that my partner had in Spain. We desing the exterior of the drone but the electronic components such as servo motors, lights, among others are acquired from an either national or international third party. In short, the software and design of the drones are completely ours.
SI: When you start developing drones, do you have a specific projection regarding their usefulness?
Diego: The drones that we develop are not recreational, they are not for a family, they are industrial. They fulfill operational job functions in harsh enviroments.
Los utilizan las empresas, por las prestaciones y los costos. Nuestra performance cuando planteamos la compañía era desarrollar este tipo de drones para la venta y el mercado nos fue llevando al servicio. Fuimos aprendiendo, las mismas nos iban diciendo que estaba buenísimo pero que necesitaban el servicio.
They are used by companies, for their benefits and low costs. Our objective when we first started the company was to sell this type of drones, later the market pointed us that the better path was to create a service. We kept learining, the companys told us that they really liked the drones but they needed the service.
SI: Regarding the data you obtain through drones, do you process it or is there some type of application or program that can be used?
DM: The drone itself is still a unit that performs a function of transfer from one point to another, so if we do not provide intelligence to that drone it is still simply that, with which the function it can give is very limited. We are leveraged by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform. From there what we do is take information based on predictive models. For example, we are comparing situations in oil fields. The drone is based on prediction models, images from the past. What platforms do is compare and shoot information if it finds an anomaly we provide information so that decisions can be made based on them. A drone could make a delivery and in that case it does not require information. In any case, if you require it, for example, at what time the drone left, with what load, how long it traveled, the information can be seen from boards that we provide or integrate within your platform.
SI: In disciplines such as archeology, geology and in countries such as Spain, drones are used to create 3D models of plans of geographic sites and spaces. If thisoccurs in Argentina it would be a very important development of other activities…
DM: Let’s think of a unit to which we have to add value so that it can be used for the functions that we want. Recently an Argentine company developed a model that is able to see in construction sites if operators are wearing helmets, jackets or even if the sand supply required for that day is there. Truth is, drones end up being just a tool that supports a platform that generates data. Our drones have an autonomy of 120 minutes which is a lot if you compare it with what the average drone battery life was just recently. Those are aggregates, but the true intelligence itself is the one that backs up the data collected by the drones
Source: Ser Industria
Uali’s operation meets the objectives established for 2019 and an unrivaled 2020 is in the horizon. The large companies in the sector, both in Argentina and Brazil, as well as in Spain and the new interests arising from Thailand corporations generate an exceeding expectation which makes Uali’s technical, commercial and creative team to work daily in order to meet demanding goals.
Uali is an end to end SaaS that is changing the industrial energy market, both in Oil, Gas and renewable energies. Our automated flights, equipped with high capacity, stability and Machine learing models, are the ones that generate a predictive maintenance process capable of substantially improving the data obtained from company assets for decision-making.