Aeroprobing cooperates with Japanese companies to tap the Southeast Asian market

Aeroprobing founder and president Lance Kao poses with an indoor drone. credit: DIGITIMES

In a bid to produce drones in Japan for export to the Southeast Asian market, drone software development company Aeroprobing has entered into a collaboration with Japan-based drone application service provider Blue Innovation in 2019 and Japan-based Sanwa Denshi Electronics in 2020, according to for Lance Kao. Founder and President of Aeroprobing.

Under the collaboration, Kao said, Aeroprobing has developed drone flight control software for Blue Innovation, while Sanwa produces drones for Aeroprobing.

According to Kao, several reasons led Aeroprobing to choose Japan as a forward base in the Southeast Asian market. First, “Made in Japan” has always been an indicator of high quality, and Aeroprobing helps enhance its bargaining power. Second, both Japan and Southeast Asia belong to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Advanced Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), which exempts exports from customs duties.

With this in mind, Aeroprobing in June 2022 set up a joint venture in Tokyo with a Japanese investment advisory firm, Kao noted, adding that Aeroprobing also hopes to gradually boost marketing in Taiwan.

Since Japan has devoted more research and development resources to robotics than to drones, Aeroprobing’s technological capability has become attractive to potential customers in Japan. Besides, Japan has become increasingly interested in Chinese drones, which gives Taiwanese companies a competitive advantage, Kao noted.

Aeroprobing is focused on developing drone flight control software and cloud-based drone flight management software, Kao said, adding that Aeroprobing has used AWS (Amazon Web Services) to create its own cloud. Kao noted that for UAV hardware, such as engines, mechanical parts and battery cells, Aeroprobing purchases them from various sources, before integrating them with in-house software designed specifically for the customer’s flight missions.

Kao noted that Aeroprobing is adopting a strategy of developing customized, application-oriented drones that are produced in small quantities. Kao noted that positioning helps Aeroprobing avoid competition with major UAV vendors, such as Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology in China, due to market segmentation.

It is not difficult to launch drones, Kao said, but it is relatively difficult to achieve the level of system integration to ensure stable flight and achieve other functions. For example, drones designed to inspect warehouses cannot be GPS-guided and must be equipped with other guidance systems. Kao noted that Aeroprobing’s in-house inspection solution has been adopted by Blue Innovation for retail logistics.

Kao noted the use of drones developed by Aeroprobing to spray pesticides in Indonesia through cooperation with local partners, adding that the drones can precisely control the quantities of water and pesticides as well as avoid chronic human poisoning associated with manual spraying of pesticides. Since individual farmers cannot afford to purchase such drones, the target customers are outside agricultural teams, Kao said, adding that Aeroprobing has developed software to manage multiple drones simultaneously. Kao noted that many Southeast Asian countries may not have been efficient land surveying in the past, and are also looking at opportunities to develop land-monitoring drones.

In addition, Aeroprobing has developed a river scanning solution based on an in-house computing model with a solution that allows drones to identify rivers and fly along them, Kao noted. The edge computing model can also be used to learn about special features of the Earth, monitor hydrological conditions, and search for targets in the event of disasters, Kao said. For hydrologic monitoring in particular, Kao noted, UAV images must be specially processed to reach an accuracy level of 1-3 meters. Kao noted that compared to remote sensing satellites, UAVs have much smaller spatial coverage but their cost is much lower.

At the end of 2021, Health Life Optics Tech announced its alliance with Aeroprobing specifically to combine AI-based image processing technology with Aeroprobing’s UAV solutions for application to precision inspection such as operating conditions of PV modules.

Kao noted that with the exception of insecticide spraying in Indonesia, most of the drone solutions are still in the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage and many collaborative projects are under discussion at present.

With a paid-up capital of NT$31.4 million (US$1.06 million), Aeroprobing operation has reached the break-even point, and hopes to seek more cooperation partners to expand business operations, Kao noted.

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