First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alexander Levandovskiy: All is well, thank you.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined SPH Engineering.
Alexander Levandovskiy: I started building my career as an intern and UAV tech manager within the UgCS reseller network and then shifted in-house to SPH Engineering to lead a newly launched Drone Show Software division. I graduated from one of the leading tech universities in Eastern Europe, and my first job was as an expert in certification of electrical equipment at KEMA Labs, CESI.
How does SPH Engineering innovate?
Alexander Levandovskiy: SPH Engineering (sph-engineering.com) is a multiproduct drone software company and UAV integration services provider. Founded in 2013 in Latvia (EU) as a UAV mission planning and flight control start-up, the company has evolved from a developer of a single flagship product (UgCS) to a market leader of multiple drone solutions. Today, the company boasts a rich global customer and reseller network in 150+ countries, while over 45% of partners are located in North America. To provide high-quality solutions for UAV professionals, SPH Engineering’s team advances four key product lines: UgCS (mission planning and flight control software), UgCS Integrated Systems (airborne integrated systems with sensors from diverse manufacturers), Drone Show Software (only commercially available software to manage drone swarm flights) and ATLAS (AI platform to process and analyze geospatial data).
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alexander Levandovskiy: While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a freeze in the event market in 2020, surprisingly, there was a demand for drone light shows. Self-isolation pushed a global wave of drone art shows that can be enjoyed safely from a distance. For example, Wuhan, Dubai, and Seoul performed huge shows to say ‘thank you’ to healthcare and essential workers on the pandemic frontlines. Furthermore, dozens of smaller-scale shows were performed by SMEs globally, pushing the barriers of language and creativity.
Back in April 2020, Drone Show Software was first used to set up and perform drone swarm shows of appreciation. As such, COVID-19 drone art shows were implemented by Great Lakes Drone Company in the USA, Platinum Fireworks Inc. in the Philippines, and PABLO AIR in South Korea. The key elements included symbols to emphasise the heart’s full gratitude to health workers, to give hope and positive emotions.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Alexander Levandovskiy: To get into the drone show business, you need to take our training course, consisting of several modules. Each module corresponds to a particular skill set required for the successful use of a Drone Show Software and drone show setup and management. We have been running training off-line for about 5 years, and as a pandemic response, we shifted the studies into on-line format. In total, we have taught over 200 drone show engineers in 39 countries.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alexander Levandovskiy: In fact, we do not have competitors. We have a unique position in the market as Drone Show Software is the only commercially available solution to manage drone swarm shows. We run co-marketing activities with our clients to support them in raising brand awareness. One of such activities was the First International Drone Show Choreography Competition. It was initiated and organized by SPH Engineering. The international judging panel consisted of Alexey Dobrovolskiy, SPH Engineering (Latvia); Dalai Felinto, Blender Institute (The Netherlands); Marc Loosli, Swiss Drone Show AG (Switzerland); Patrice Guy, Northstar Fireworks Inc. (Canada); Armands Blumbergs, Base Motion (Latvia); Bill Blair, Swarming Drones (Australia); Elmars Aboltins, DRONE ME (Latvia); Antonio Aguilera, WaterGush Inc. (Mexico); Martins Upitis, Janis Rozentals Riga Art School (Latvia).
Your final thoughts?
Alexander Levandovskiy: In 2020, Drone Show Software supported customers across the globe, allowing for a total of 3’945 drones to be displayed together simultaneously in the night sky. During the pandemic, the software has been developing and helping our customers to make shows up to 1000 drones and set a world record, Guinness, on the most unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launching fireworks simultaneously.
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