Rudy Muller about Dutch Drone Centre: ‘Here lies the future of innovation’

Rudy Muller about Dutch Drone Centre: ‘Here lies the future of innovation’

The world of drones is constantly in development. Even now, the latest innovations are being developed and tested at the Dutch Drone Centre Aviolanda. Co-founder Rudy Muller has been part of this centre of expertise ever since it was founded, and is proud to share his history, innovations and vision of the future. 

It is undeniable that Rudy is ambitious and passionate about his three companies: RPAS Services BV, uAvionix Europe (operating as Mu Aviation BV) and the Dutch Drone Centre Aviolanda, of which he is the Accountable Manager and co-founder. Rudy: ‘RPAS Services BV has been a certified drone operator in the Netherlands since 7 July 2017, and in Europe since 1 January 2022. Apart from regular drone flights for the inspection of infrastructure, buildings and industry, as well as for the production of films and videos, we have been granted a unique permit which allows us to fly drones ‘beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)’ in a military airspace as the only test centre in The Netherlands. In other words, we are allowed to fly our drones out of the pilot’s line of sight, which means that our drones can fly longer distances. In the world of drones, this certainly puts us in a favourable position.’

Contributing to society

Can drones contribute to society? Yes, they can! How about drones with built-in heat sensors to save the lives of fawns during harvesting? Drones to transport blood samples from hospital to a Laboratory? Drones that fly at night to help local police in target neighbourhoods? Rudy: ‘I am thankful for all the ways we can contribute to society.’ Rudy started his career in aviation many years ago. ‘I have been flying in manned aviation for 30 years.’ Rudy obtained his pilot’s license in 1997, when he had to make frequent flights to Sweden and Switzerland for the multinational company where he was working at the time. ‘We were given flight lessons as part of the company’s profit-sharing scheme. Those were the days!’

Rudy is made for the world of aviation. While working as an IT manager in a new build container terminal in the Maasvlakte area within the Port of Rotterdam, he discovered that drones could be a perfect tool for inspecting the world’s largest quay cranes. This was when he realised: ‘I want to work with drones!’

Dutch Drone Centre Aviolanda

Rudy currently employs a team of eight pilots, and works for large organisations in the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the Dutch national police force, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Dutch Ministry of Defence and local forest rangers. ‘Innovative multispectral techniques even allow us to look back in time, so that we can observe changes in vegetation in different landscapes. This is a unique tool to investigate the vegetation next to a runway, for example. Imagine that we could decrease the amount of vegetation to make runways areas less attractive environment for unwanted birds. Another example is the use of electrically powered drones for the inspection of pipelines between big cities like Antwerp and Rotterdam. Such innovations are at the frontline of technology. You can imagine how special they are and why we would want to test them.’

In the rest of the world, Rudy is known for his European company uAvionix Europe. This company sells small, certified transponders for crewed and uncrewed aircraft and aviation grade command & control broadcasting devices that can be mounted onto drones. Transponders make drones visible to air traffic controllers, manned aircraft and other drone operators in the vicinity. ‘It is the only aviation-certified transponder in the world, and so we have become a unique player in the world of unmanned aircraft. The innovation of small and lightweight transponders, together with ADS-B ground stations and ground sensors for cooperative and non-cooperative traffic, will transmit traffic information (TIS-B) to an manned cockpit, make the integration of crewed and uncrewed aviation possible.’It all comes together in the Dutch Drone Centre Aviolanda. Rudy has been the centre’s accountable manager ever since it was founded on 6 November 2017. ‘Companies want to come here because of the unique opportunities: we attract stakeholders and companies that are active in the aviation industry, we work within a controlled airspace and focus on security, and we integrate crewed and uncrewed aviation, advanced air mobility and scaled flight testing. The latter means the development of new aircraft and perform test flights with larger and larger aircraft. In the future, we hope to attract even more drone manufactures, because they too will contribute to our overall success through their own innovations.’

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