By Chad Sweet, CEO, ModalAI
Recent adjustments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have impacted American companies that use foreign drones and drone parts. The government now bars certain agencies from procuring unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), flight controllers and components developed or manufactured in a covered foreign country, specifically China.
For companies like Inspired Flight, a developer of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for
industrial and critical missions, the new procurement requirements posed a problem in their production process. The California-based company, like many others in America, relied on a China-based company to obtain internal components for their UAVs.
“What we had been using before were Chinese-fabricated controllers, which had numerous quality and reliability issues,” said Martin Bialy, Head of Engineering at Inspired Flight.
Since its founding in 2016, Inspired Flight has specialized in creating mid-to-large-sized drones and drone components for a broad range of industries.
Initially a UAV components manufacturer, Inspired Flight patented the Bernoulli 3 motor. It was the first industrial UAV motor to successfully integrate an electronic speed controller (ESC) for maximum efficiency and in-field replacement.
The company then introduced its first complete commercial UAV platform in 2018, and now has a full series of quadcopters.
Inspired Flight’s customers use UAVs for the following applications, just to name a few:
Mining inspection – Customers fly drones underground to check tunnels for obstructive
areas or cave-ins before sending employees into precarious surroundings. The drones use
LiDAR, radar that uses a laser to measure distance.
Forestry monitoring – As climate change continues to impact the world at a rapid pace,
companies use vision-based drones to count trees, record changes in forestation over time and make adjustments to further growth.
Military protection and research – Drones equip soldiers with clear, extensive surveillance video to detect threats early. Some divisions even use the UAVs as weapon systems to counter and subdue other aerial vehicles.
Because Inspired Flight drones are designed to adapt to a variety of industries, the company’s customers, and the needs of those customers, are diverse. For many, especially military clientele, American-made parts were required to secure the orders.
Inspired Flight saw the need to adjust its procurement process, so they could comply with all government-related regulations and give their customers a 100% made-in-USA product.
“We started searching the internet for American-made flight controllers and we found
ModalAI,” said Bialy.
American-Made Components: Better Quality, More Support and Reduced Failures
ModalAI develops and manufactures highly-integrated AI-powered communication systems for drones. The San Diego-based company spun out of Qualcomm® in 2018 and leveraged more than five years of prior research and development in the drone and robotic markets to start ModalAI. Based in San Diego, it manufactures most of the company’s products in Southern California.
Inspired Flight teamed up with ModalAI to incorporate its American-made PX4 Flight Controller into all of its drones. The entire integration process, from conception to the first drone flight, took only three weeks.
In the past, it was typical for the team at Inspired Flight to run into quality issues during the flight core installation process. Sometimes, the controller did not communicate with its components correctly, or would not function at all.
“We would over-buy controllers because many ended up in the scrap pile,” said Bialy of the previous vendor. “Customer support was difficult due to the nature of working with a far-away, foreign company.”
Inspired Flight’s adoption of ModalAI components helped the company achieve key business goals, including:
Increase product quality
Access to customer support, including remote and hands-on help
Reduce product failures
At an affordable price, ModalAI gave Inspired Flight the boost they needed to support their customers and improve their product. ModalAI was available with 24/7 remote support and sometimes, for Inspired Flight, who was only a short drive away from ModalAI, hands-on help.
“The number of failures is non-existent, to be honest,” said Bialy. “The support is unparalleled.”
ModalAI Increases Market Opportunities for Inspired Flight
Inspired Flight now uses ModalAI controllers in all its models, including quadcopters and
Each Inspired Flight product has a basic structure, which the customer can then customize to meet its specific needs. Whether applications require LiDAR, high-quality cameras, or heavy lifting of up to 20 kilograms, customers can easily add features to Inspired Flight UAVs to adjust the situation at hand.
Many of the components customers add on to UAVs are expensive and often cost companies more than $10,000. Therefore, if a drone crashes, the destroyed equipment can cost thousands of dollars.
With the new ModalAI systems, Inspired Flight products function at peak performance. The new controllers also mean employees can spend less time troubleshooting and more time developing uses for the product and reaching out to new customer markets.
Now that Inspired Flight UAVs comply with all governmental requirements, the opportunity for serving new customers grows. As governmental restrictions affect the use of drones, Inspired Flight is ready at the forefront with their American-made, high-quality UAVs.
To learn more about ModalAI products for your drones, visit www.modalai.com