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Airbus launches Aerial business for imagery services

A new Airbus business launched on 9 May will offer imagery and communications from satellites and drones as a service to a global clientele, the company announces at the AUVSI Xponential convention in Dallas.

Unlike other Airbus units focused on making flying platforms, the Atlanta-based Airbus Aerial business makes no unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) or satellites but uses their payloads to provide services, says Jesse Kallman, the newly appointed head of the company.

Aerial’s core product is a suite of software tools that can define imagery collection requirements based on customer requests, then process that imagery to develop analytical data.

“There’s a lot of companies providing hardware and software” in the UAV markets,” Kallman says. “But a lot of commercial companies don’t really care. Drones are not what they’re interested in. They’re interested in solving problems and they see drones as a way to do that.”

Aerial has access to the capabilities and interfaces of Airbus Defence and Space division’s global constellation of imagery satellites as well as other companies’ spacecraft, Kallman says. When satellites alone can’t provide all of the required data, Aerial will identify the UAVs that can fill in the gaps by flying closer to the area of interest.

Aerial also sees a future role as a service provider for the Airbus Zephyr, a high-altitude, ultra-long-endurance drone designed to perform as communications relay over a vast area for weeks at a time, Kallman says.

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