Drone Development with Benjamin Pinguet
For the second installment of our Employee Spotlight series, Waypoint sat down with senseFly’s Product & Solutions Manager, Benjamin Pinguet, to learn how his experience landed him a job at the company, and how his role has shifted since joining the team.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My first job was with a civil engineering company in France, where I specialized in bridge and structural inspections. This is also where I started using drones for the first time.
Back in 2011, the engineering company I was with won a bid to inspect a famous bridge: the Viaduct de Millau. With concrete piers more than 800-feet high, it has the highest piers in the world. That was my first time using a drone, and that’s when I saw the great potential and application that drones could have in civil engineering.
How and when did you get started with senseFly?
After my experience inspecting bridges and working with a big company in engineering transportation, I gained a lot of knowledge about using drones for professional applications. That’s when I applied for a position at senseFly. In 2014, I was hired as an Application Engineer. At the time, I was preparing for the release of senseFly’s quadcopter, Albris. It was a very different role than what I do now.
What does your average day at work look like?
As part of the product management team, I have a central position within the company. I have a lot of interaction with all the different departments. In the early stages of product development, I create what the specifications of the product should be – the weight, how it works, how robust is must be, the type of payloads – the wide definition of what the product is.
I do a lot of research, competitive analyses and customer interviews. Speaking with the customers is so important because they help me further understand the needs and trends within the market. I work with the sales managers who put me in contact with these customers. Then I work with the R&D department, especially the project manager, to implement the product definition. I’m also in contact with marketing to help them explain what the unique selling points of the product are. I also provide them with material, such as case studies and white papers, to help communicate what makes us different from the competition.
In addition, I help find a wider solution for the product by integrating the drone with third party software. That’s what we do with Pix4D, Trimble and RaptorMaps, for example. The idea is to make the workflow integrated as best we can for the users’ benefit.
What is your favorite thing about working at senseFly?
What I enjoy most is working with customers and helping them achieve great projects. For example, I helped our customer Chris Healy with his Sheep River project. He’s also broken numerous world records with the drone missions he’s embarked upon. I work with customers like that all over the world and really enjoy helping them create new applications. That also helps me understand how we can improve our technology.
It seems like everyone at senseFly shares the same passion for drones and the drone industry. What about drone technology are you most passionate about?
Since day one, I have been absolutely amazed by the capabilities of the eBee. It has always been a pleasure to use and see how well such a lightweight drone can fly, even in high winds.
I’m also amazed by the ability to obtain incredible accuracy—down to a few centimeters! Considering the fact that the drone is flying at 13 m/s, 120 m above the ground, constantly pushed by the wind and guided by satellites hundreds of kilometers away, it is just incredible. I have a lot of respect for our talented engineers that make all this work with such reliability.
Where do you see the drone industry heading in the next 3-5 years?
I think we will see more applications and how they’ve matured. This will be enabled by, for example, the new technology coming in on the artificial-intelligence side. We will be able to analyze the data and detect objects we weren’t able to before.
As the legislation becomes clearer and opens new opportunities like BVLOS, it’s going to push more and more companies to adopt drones on a larger scale. Right now, we see early adopters and people passionate about technology using drones. We’re also seeing bigger companies learning quickly how drones can be integrated in their businesses.
That’s great insight, Ben. Thank you so much for talking with us today!
You’re welcome. Cheers!
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