InDro Robotics, Area X.O team up to provide high-level drone, robot training

InDro Robotics, Area X.O team up to provide high-level drone, robot training

By Scott Simmie


InDro Robotics and Area X.O – the R&D complex for next-gen smart mobility, autonomy and connectivity founded and operated by Invest Ottawa with an emphasis on real-world robotics and IoT device testing – have joined forces to build and operate a new test centre at Area X.O’s private facility.

It will be dedicated to drone and robot testing, demonstration and trainingwith the physical site and training modules intended to reflect National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, criteria.

This type of drone training requires very precise drone piloting skills and produces a score. It’s used for high-level drone professionals, particularly law enforcement and other First Responders, extensively in the United States.

Leveraging critical new funding from the Government of Canada’s support through FedDev Ontario, the new facility at Area X.O will be the first of its kind in Canada. With instruction provided InDro Robotics, it will harness the capabilities and infrastructure of Area X.O, and create an entirely new resource for Canadian innovators and companies in a year-round setting.

Below: A rendering of the planned site. Note the caged area at rear for the safe evaluation of drones.



Extensive drone training…


The facility will offer multiple options for drone training, in addition to the new high-level course. These will include obtaining Basic and Advanced RPAS certificates, along with on-site flight reviews.

InDro already has an extensive background with training First Responders, as well as advanced commercial pilots. We’ve done this at InDro facilities and on-site for clients. And the online portal FLYY is a collaboration with Kate Klassen, one of Canada’s most respected drone instructors.

“Online instruction is a tremendous tool,” says Klassen. “But there’s something to be said for in-person, hands-on training once you’re talking about highly specialised skills.”

The facility will combine aerial and ground robotic training and testing – all in a single location.




It’s not just about the drones. InDro Robotics and Area X.O strive to offer training, skills development and evaluation of the capabilities of robots.

Want to learn how to teleoperate a robot? You’ll do it here.

You’ll also be able to put your robot (or one of InDro’s) through its paces. You’ll be operating on several different surfaces, feeling the difference as an operator when moving over concrete, various grades of gravel – even through sand and water. You’ll also be piloting your robot over varying types of obstacles, along with testing the ability to climb at various degrees of inclination (if you’re so inclined).

Want to pilot using a thermal camera? Or try testing autonomous detect-and-avoid and SLAM capabilities? We’ve got you covered.

“There really isn’t any other facility of this type in Canada,” says Reece. “InDro is proud to be partnering with Area X.O to bring this unique innovation to those in the aerial and ground robotics space.”

The criteria for ground robots will also follow standards that are accepted for the testing of robots themselves – as well as operators. 

Unitree GO1 EDU and B1

The InDro connection


InDro Robotics has a long and respected tradition of offering training to drone professionals. We have trained police, firefighters and other First Responders on how to effectively use drones within the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARS part IX) regulations. We’re also fortunate to have former RCMP member Brian Fentiman – who was responsible for RCMP RPAS operations in British Columbia, on staff.

In fact, Brian created the layout for the course, and believes there are two types of clients who will want to use the test facility.

“I think there are going to be manufacturers that want their product tested, as well as police departments, fire departments, First Responders, as well as any professional agency that’s using drones,” he says.

“Part of the facility will also help other companies test ground robots – navigating curbs, driveways, inclines, sand, gravel, water and more. There’s also a netted enclosure that will allow drone manufacturers to test scenarios like GPS or compass failures and flyaways. This is a safe enclosure – technically, they are flying indoors and don’t have to seek special regulatory permissions or take on additional risk.”

Brian also points out that the facility has been designed to potentially grow over time, perhaps one day including a section for training in such areas as HUSAR – Heavy Urban Search and Rescue.

For a better idea of what the initial site will look like, check out the video below.


Area X.O: A competitive advantage


Area X.O is already a one-of-a-kind facility. On any given day you’ll see robots taking advantage of the private roads and traffic lights used for Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) testing – or drones being flown to evaluate new capabilities.

The new test centre will enhance Area X.O’s capacity for testing, training, evaluation and development, in conjunction with InDro’s expertise.

“InDro Robotics is a world leader in advanced robotic and drone R&D, and one of the very first companies in Canada to be certified by Transport Canada to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS),” said Kelly Daize, Strategic Market Director of Area X.O. “We are delighted that InDro is building an R&D team onsite with us at Area X.O with 20 engineers and counting.” 

“Having this world leader co-located at our private R&D facility creates an immense competitive advantage for the innovators and companies we serve,” said Rebecca Thompson, Senior Manager of Operations, Area X.O. “We are excited to build on our collaboration and put InDro’s industry leadership, technology and certified capabilities to work to accelerate the commercialization of new robotic solutions and build the pipeline of related expertise.”

Below: InDro CEO Philip Reece at Area X.O during the TCXPO event

Robot spacer

InDro’s take


We’re pleased to be involved with this project – which, to the best of our knowledge – is the first of its kind in Canada.

With InDro’s background in both drone training and robotics R&D, we’re confident this will be a perfect match for our skillset.

“Flying drones professionally, and operating robots, is a skill,” says InDro CEO Philip Reece.

“We look forward to offering our services at this facility to First Responders and professional operators from across Canada on a year-round basis. Whether it’s drones or robots, we anticipate this will become the go-to site for elevating skills and testing product capabilities in a controlled environment. We’re also pleased to again be collaborating with the excellent Area X.O and Invest Ottawa teams.”

Construction on the new facility will begin shortly, with operations expected to commence by summer, 2023.


Spexi offers broad range of geospatial tools for drone pilots

Spexi offers broad range of geospatial tools for drone pilots

A Canadian firm has been quietly gaining customers – and a reputation – with its broad palette of geospatial tools for drone operations.

That company is Vancouver-based Spexi.

And while it might not be a household name yet, a growing number of professional drone operators are using its palette of tools (including its mobile app), to plan efficient and accurate flights for the gathering of geospatial data.

The Spexi platform has been designed for a wide variety of sectors requiring actionable data from above, including real estate, construction, precision agriculture and more.

On the real estate front, here’s an example of a panorama produced with Spexi. Get in there with your mouse and scroll around. You can also zoom via scroll or pinching on your trackpad.

The big picture


That panorama was seamless, and with great resolution even zoomed in. But it’s only one of many offerings on the Spexi platform. So let’s take a step back for a look at the bigger picture.

The Spexi website outlines the company’s many offerings, along with features of its powerful mobile app.

In terms of data products, Spexi offers the following:

  • 3D models and point clouds showing proportionality of the building and structural features
  • High resolution image galleries with annotations for easy collaboration
  • Up-to-date Google Map tiles showing the property with the ability to measure slopes & volumes and annotate features
  • High resolution image galleries with annotations for easy collaboration
  • 360˚ panoramas with hot spots for points of interest

Here’s a look at a volumetric calculation captured and computed via Spexi. Beats trying to do this manually:

Spexi Volumetric

The Spexi app


A large part of the Spexi value proposition is its mobile app. It allows pilots to quickly plan flight parameters, carry out autonomous data capturing missions, upload and crunch the data – and share the resulting files with stakeholders.

Specific features of the app include:

  • Planning tools for efficient and accurate data acquisition
  • Autonomous flight using the latest DJI drones
  • Secure, cloud-based footage processing and sharing
  • Spexi can carry out survey work using Ground Control Points.

Not a pilot but need a job? Spexi offers access to its network of pilots who can take on the mission on your behalf.



Good question. Spexi offers a couple of options here, suitable both for those requiring the odd one-off job as well as Enterprise users.

If you’re interested in only the occasional mission, Spexi offers both value and incentive via its “credit” option. Sign up for a free account and you’ll receive five credits. A single credit can be used for a job like the panorama you saw above. A single credit covers up to 100 uploaded images and processing. So just by signing up you can cover five jobs like this. Additional credits can be purchased for $15 each.

Users with high volume processing needs can sign up for the monthly plan. It allows for the processing of up to 3,000 images per month at a cost of $300 per month. If you’re an ultra heavy user, Spexi offers packages for requirements exceeding 3,000 monthly images.

“Our goal is really to help companies and people transform their operations to be more efficient using drones and make better decisions with drone-based data,” explains Spexi Chief Operating Officer Alec Wilson – a helicopter pilot with a degree in geography and remote sensing. He was also a key part of the team that built Coastal Drones into a large online learning platform.

“Spexi is really the only Canadian drone software-based platform that can service contracts at this scale,” he says.

Spexi has already received a vote of confidence from the federal government. Innovative Solutions Canada offered financial backing to Spexi on its path to commercialization and enabled testing and evaluation of the product, including some pretty ambitious missions. Here’s COO Wilson, in a video explaining just one of multiple projects it carried out as a result.

Just the beginning


Though Spexi is already an easy-to-use platform with mutiple use-cases, expect more features to come. With the promise of routine BVLOS flight hopefully somewhere around the corner, COO Alec Wilson has ambitious plans for the near future.

“Looking into the future, we see our platform being used to produce drone-based data at much larger scales,” he says.

“There are some amazing new emerging technologies that enable collaboration in ways we have never seen before.  We are in the infancy of this technology, and we at Spexi have some big plans to get drone-based data into the hands of those who need it most including leveraging BVLOS capabilities once available.”

Plans also include collaboration and integration with the FLYY training platform, enabling students to take a deep dive into Spexi’s capabilities. More on that soon.

InDro’s Take


We’re pleased to see a Canadian data acquisition and processing company begin to make its name in the field. While it’s up against some stiff competition from larger photogrammetry companies, the Spexi platform is simple to use and powerful – with plans for enhanced capabilities as the industry evolves. Its option for pay-as-you-go credits for those requiring one-off missions is attractive and a great way to test the waters (especially with five free credits on sign-up).

InDro Robotics has some collaboration underway with Spexi, and anticipates this relationship will only grow. More details on that…down the road.


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New drone instruction portal lets new pilots go ‘FLYY’

New drone instruction portal lets new pilots go ‘FLYY’

By Scott Simmie

Thinking about earning your Basic or Advanced RPAS Certificate but don’t know where to start? Want some tools to help prep for your Transport Canada required Flight Review? Looking for some answers in a friendly, supportive community of drone pilots?

Look no further. InDro Robotics is very pleased to announce FLYY, an online drone learning portal with an incredible amount of offerings and features. What’s more, the person behind this major initiative is none other than InDro’s Kate Klassen, a highly respected professional and instructor in both the traditional aviation world as well as the drone sector.

If seeing that image of Kate in a studio rings a bell, that’s understandable: Kate developed and fronted one of the most successful online drone courses in Canada. Now, she’s taken all of that experience and expertise and put it into a comprehensive learning platform with multiple course offerings. There’s something for everyone, ranging from the absolute beginner to seasoned pros looking to up their game. There’s even a brand new and supportive Forum, where Kate and others can weigh in with helpful tips or answer questions. No trolls here; just a collaborative and growing community eager to learn and share.

We’re excited. And so is Kate.

“I’ve constructed the FLYY courses and guides to ensure success for those seeking to become Basic or Advanced RPAS pilots,” she says. “It was so fun to get back into content creation mode and then into the studio to record this training – no promises my jokes have gotten any better though!”

Special FLYY launch discount


We could go on and on. But we also issued a news release about this – so no point reinventing the rotor! We’ll paste that release in a second so you can see all the details, but wanted to point out that FLYY is offering 15% off until March 1. So if you’re in Canada and want to be ready for spring piloting, hop on over to the FLYY website and take a look at some of the course offerings.

Believe us, there’s something for everyone, including helpful FLYY Guides and even Flight Reviews. Once you’ve made your selection, apply the code FLYY15 at checkout.

The news release


Okay, for those of you looking for even more information, you can see our news release below, or download it here.

Happy piloting…and congratulations, Kate Klassen. Having been through the site, we can tell you she has done an absolutely amazing job with these comprehensive, Transport Canada compliant course offerings.