The importance of Montreal in aviation, aeronautics and aerospace is well recognized. The city is home to the headquarters of ICAO, IATA, Bombardier and many other players. Could civilian drone-tech grow here in the same way? It’s hard to tell; but a few signs point to the emergence of a dynamic drone-tech industry.

World-class hardware and software for UAS is already created in Montreal. ARA Robotique is a startup launched a few months ago by the founders of the École de Technologie Supérieure’s Dronolab. The new company custom designs UAV flight controllers for professional applications. You might have heard of them in recent days: they visited Dubai as a competitor for the Drones for Good Award. Using 3DR’s Solo UAS platform, the company helped Humanitas in developing their HUMANIT3D SwarmNet – drones for humanitarian aid.

Humanitas is also a Montreal company. They were semi-finalists in the prestigious Drones for Good Award thanks to their innovative design for a wireless network using a swarm of drones. Their method quickly gets a communications network up and running over a disaster area to allow first responders to coordinate rescue efforts on the ground. Appropriately named SwarmNet, this system offers an inexpensive solution that helps save lives.

In another field related to drone-tech—aerial image post-processing—a company located in Old Montreal has already claimed an important place on the world stage. For a while now, SimActive has been selling its high-performance Corrolator3D photogrammetry software to important players in Earth observation. Even if this kind of product seems in close step with possible uses of commercial drone-captured images, Corrolator3D has been in existence for much longer than the recent emergence of civilian drones. It was originally designed to generate 3D point cloud models from images taken by satellites and planes. A more affordable version, adapted to the needs of remote sensing using UAVs, was recently made available.

We’ve seen several other innovations that are quietly being prepared in tech schools and universities—creativity abounds here among students and young entrepreneurs. We have the privilege of witnessing the emergence of Montreal’s new drone-tech industry.

ARA Robotique et Humanit3d

ARA Robotique and Humanitas for Humanit3D project at Drones for Good, Dubai.

Skymate of ARA Robotique

Skymate, the flight control system of ARA Robotique.

This video contains a general overview of Correlator3D’s capabilities and project setup.

Photo credits: Ara Robotique, HumanITas & l’ÉTS