Cuban drones for industry and services

Erik Carmona, a young engineer from Havana, together with other friends, leads a technological project that has all the potential to become a technology-based company in the future.

AlaSoluciones is the name of this private initiative, focused on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles for industry and services. Four founding partners saw the birth of the project in 2017, but today eight people with different backgrounds are working on it: mechanical engineers, computer scientists, agronomists and technicians, but all aeromodellers.

They have so far developed four drone prototypes. The first has a camera that stores the coordinates of the site where it takes the photos. These images can then be used to create maps, urban land surveys, projects to check the state of forests, or calculate the volume of open-pit mines.

Another system is based on robotic falconry, with a drone shaped like a sparrowhawk, that imitates the sound of the bird in flight and is designed to scare away birds in places where it is needed. For example at airports, or to protect crops such as rice, where birds can wreak havoc. The drone makes it possible to drive the animals away without killing or harming them.

“The hawk-shaped drones came about because the Cuban Airport and Aeronautics Services Enterprise did not have its own model aircraft, but instead rented them from Spanish companies, and it was necessary to replace this import of services,” Erick notes.

This hawk is a fully automatic drone, of which 3 prototypes have been made, and it also has the merit of being the first Cuban aircraft to land automatically.

Another drone developed by AlaSoluciones is almost multifunctional, since it is basically used to test the algorithms and control systems created by the team.

And the fourth is an aquatic surface drone specially designed for depth measurement work in Cuban reservoirs, to calculate the real volumes of water they hold.

“Right now we are developing a multi-rotor drone for fumigation, an ambitious project, since it is a large drone that will carry 12 liters of liquid for fumigation,” Erick explains.

They are also working on the creation of a tethered drone for ETECSA, with cable power, which will allow it to fly indefinitely. The objective is to provide mobile coverage to difficult to access areas. Likewise, it could be used when telecommunication antennas are affected, for example, due to meteorological events, with the drone  assuming telephone coverage.

In March of this year, the team signed their first contract with the Scientific-Technology Park of Havana, which formalizes the execution of the Design, Manufacture and Operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) project, an agreement that will provide value-added services to strategic sectors of the economy, which have an impact on the country’s development.

Another area they intend to venture into as a result of the new partnership is precision agriculture, where the UAVs would help capture important information and assess the conditions of  monitored land, in addition to the option of area-based spraying.

The high innovative value of AlaSoluciones, by implementing a technology commonly associated with developed countries, and its rapid progress compared to other initiatives in the Park’s portfolio, led it to become the first project to be made official in this space.

Without large resources, but with a lot of inventiveness and curiosity to investigate, make mistakes and get it right, the guys from AlaSoluciones show that first-rate technologies can also be developed in Cuba, and that these proposals can even emerge from private entrepreneurship.

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