French drone startup takes flight in Australia

15 Aug 2019

Australia’s vast agricultural properties and progressive regulations have proved ideal for Sunbirds’ drone technology, leading the company to set up operations in the country.

Sunbirds’ flagship product is an autonomous aircraft that harvests solar energy to fly 10 times longer and farther than other drones. With a wide range of fixed-wing drones and sensors, the company’s products can be used across many industries, including forestry, livestock farming and mining.

The Toulouse-based startup has set up an office, assembly workshop and maintenance centre in Brisbane, Queensland. The office provides drone packages and drone-as-a-service solutions to surveyors, cattle stations and environmental monitoring companies.

Sunbirds has also partnered with an Australian drone retailer, local training companies and international firms to grow its business in Australia.

‘Sunbirds’ solar-powered drone can fly for seven hours, making it a perfect match for aerial monitoring of large areas with plentiful sunlight, such as cattle stations in Outback Australia,’ says Amaury Wiest, Director, Sunbirds Aero.

‘Australian landholders have to fly manned aircraft twice a week to check their stock and bore water pumps over properties as large as some European countries. Our drones can significantly reduce monitoring costs, save time and fuel, and increase safety and comfort.’

Wiest adds that Australian regulations for long-range drone flights are among the most advanced and flexible in the world, ensuring Sunbirds’ drones could be readily deployed.

Australia’s proximity to and cultural ties with Asia was another reason to set up operations in the country, as Sunbirds looks to expand its business into Southeast Asia.

Australia is emerging as a hub for Agriculture 4.0 – the next generation of technologies set to revolutionise the agriculture and food sectors. Find out why Australia is a compelling destination for agtech investment, partnership and research.