Interview with Alan O’Shea of Masada UAV

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From the Emerald Isle, Masada UAV is a designer and manufacturer of industrial/professional class UAVs. Droneblog talks with Masada to find out the story behind their success.

 

Tell us about the founders of Masada UAV.

 

Masada UAV, is a small start-up company, based in Tullamore Co Offaly, Ireland. It was founded by Alan O’Shea and Mark Gallagher, both of whom have engineering backgrounds. Alan has extensive product design experience, largely within the aircraft maintenance industry. Alan is also the owner and CEO of Slipstream EDI ltd, a specialist design and engineering consultancy which has been in business since 2009.  Mark has a strong project management and electronics background which are obviously ideally suited to Masada UAV. Mark manages the system development and assembly side to the business.
 

What is Masada UAV, and how did it get started?

 

At Masada UAV, we provide fully functional and autonomous UAV systems to industrial / professional users designed to order based on client specifications. However we also can cater to the amateur market, proving custom RTF builds at competitive rates.

 

Masada was started in June of 2014, when Slipstream EDI, was approached by a company to solve a monitoring issue over very large areas. It became pretty clear almost immediately that the most practical solution was to adapt drone technology. From there, when Mark and Alan conducted more involved research into the business sector, it became obvious that there was a clear opening in the market for a specific type of UAV company.
 

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Tell us about some of the drones you design and manufacture. What’s your biggest seller?
 

Masada Produces Fixed wing and rotary wing UAV systems, with ground stations if required. Our fixed wing systems are designed to compete functionally with mid-range systems available on the market, however we can scale up or down the system parameters to meet client needs or budgets. As an indication, a mid-range Masada System would start around €2500-€3000, exclusive of payload and ground station.

 

Rotary wing systems tend to vary wildly, depending on budget and requirements, but almost any requirement can be met. Masada also offers a number of payload options, such as a rotating nose gimbal for FPV, which be retrofitted to almost any fixed wing or rotary wing platform. We also offer a professional thermal camera solution with HD optical cameras and a sub 40 micro kelvin thermal camera in a custom designed and robust all-in one housing. The camera can be sold separately or with a 2/3 axis gimbal. Please contact us for more details.

 

What services do you offer?
 

Masada offers a variety of product related and customer related services. Aside from the custom design and product development service we also offer a 3D printing and scanning service, which we also use internally for product development. We also offer aerial services for thermal survey and geo mapping. Unique to Masada we also offer AR (Augmented reality) content with our thermal and aerial surveys.

 

Who are most of your clients, or your most common types of projects?
 

Masada is largely aimed at industrial users and currently is in discussions with several companies on how to integrate drone technology into their business, which seems to be the norm at the moment. There are a lot of companies who have heard of and are interested in adopting drone tech into their operations, however they simply don’t know where to start or are oblivious to the logistics and legalities of integrating UAV systems. Thermal survey applications seem to excite the team here the most – it feels like a perfect marriage of technologies. Also, we are working on spectral camera solutions for the agricultural sector and proximity counting of livestock.

 

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What’s involved in getting an Aerial Work Permission from the Irish Aviation Authority? What are the regulations like in Ireland?

 

In Ireland, as in most countries in the world at this time there is a severe disconnect between what the tech can achieve and what is permitted by law, although in our opinion Ireland is one of the more progressive in terms of attempting to adapt legislation. The people at the IAA are extremely co-operative and accommodating, with the bounds obviously of what is permitted by law. In terms of actually getting a permit, the current legislation requires attendance at and passing ground school class, which can be 2-3 day event, then writing and compiling an Aerial Works manual, then submission to the IAA. The final step to granting of aerial work permissions is a practical demonstration in the presence of an IAA compliance officer.

 

What advances in drone technology are you excited about?
 

We are watching very closely the development of situational awareness technology, such as sense and avoid, as we believe the development of a robust system at a reasonable price point will truly help to revolutionize the sector. Also AR – we believe the incorporation of this tech will be very interesting to watch how it develops.

 

Are there any upcoming developments in MasadaUAV (products, services, projects, etc.)?
 

Yes, we hope very soon to release the ORCA, what we are calling the TUFF drone – throw it in your backpack, take it to the beach….can land in water and take a few pretty hard knocks.

 

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