Albatroz Engenharia, headquartered in Lisboa, was born by the hands of Alberto Vale and João Gomes Mota,administrator and our interlocutor in this interview. He began working in R&D at EDP in 2003 and invited his colleague Alberto to join the innovation in the field of inspection of power lines from helicopter.
At the forefront of Research and Development
As a result of the previous experience of both as R&D engineers in mobile robotics since the 1990s, they introduced sensors and artificial intelligence capabilities in a process that had been so far completely dependent on human capabilities, operating in a very demanding context, within only a few meters of high voltage lines.
To profit from this product, they decided to found Albatroz in 2006. That same year, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the EDP group and, a year later, they already had the first system flying. “This system measures in real time the distance of the helicopter to the lines, trees and ground, all for safety reasons, avoiding, for example, collisions”, explains the engineer. In late 2008, the first contract was made in Spain, another software contract with Canada and, in 2011, they started working in France. “There, our life changed a lot: we stopped providing only technology and started to process the data as well.”, adds.
Directed to the aeronautics area, the company develops hardware and software for systems operating on aircraft, first helicopters, then drones. His flagship product is PLMI and, since everything that is assembled on a manned aircraft has to be certified, they have set up an internal group to achieve this certification, becoming one of the four Portuguese organizations recognized as Design Organisation Approval [DOA] by the European Safety Aviation Agency [EASA], being able to certify the installation of their own equipment.
Beyond aeronautics, its target audience are the electrical lines companies. Acting in the middle of the value chain, they end up working with service companies in the area of ??helicopters and airplanes without losing sight of the chain to the end users of electricity.
The company was always created as a bridge between R&D and the industrial world. At this time, they have sponsored six master degrees, a PhD in aeronautics with UBI (Universidade da Beira Interior), more than 30 internships, several publications in conferences, maintaining close partnership with universities and companies as a way to share and create ideas. The distinction from competition is marked by four principles: “to make things personalized to each customer, optimize the solutions in function of the quality/price relation, work side by side with the customer and openness to R&D”, underlines Gomes Mota.
With around 30 employees, they have customers in Portugal, Spain, France, the USA, Canada and Italy. In the words of the administrator, “given the sustainability, the conviction is that in most activities, if they are well done, we can reduce their environmental impact by adjusting the equipment and procedures to that effect.”
For the future, Albatroz Engenharia wants to transfer its knowledge to other areas, investing for that in its R&D work, aiming at sectors such as the inventory and evaluation of the forest “health” or the inspection of the railway lines.