Interview of UAVIA’s CEO Pierre Vilpoux about our collaboration to Total Energies and CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) AUSEA (Airborne Ultra-light Spectrometer for Environmental Application) project

Interview of UAVIA’s CEO Pierre Vilpoux about our collaboration to Total Energies and CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) AUSEA (Airborne Ultra-light Spectrometer for Environmental Application) project

by uavia
June 8, 2023


UAVIA is a Deep Tech software publisher.

We provide a software infrastructure that allows our customers, like Total Energies, to use unmanned drones on all industrial sites, as simply and as securely as it can be, in order to process data and make it smart.


In other words, we put an embedded intelligence inside the drones, that replaces the pilot.

There are means of communication, there is an embedded artificial intelligence that receives high-level orders from a unified interface, whatever the drone, and tells these drones “go measure this”, “go observe that”, “go for a doubt removal”. 

And the drone receives the order, interprets it and decides itself how to carry out  the mission through autonomous navigation, taking into account safety at its best above sites that are often deemed dangerous.


In the case of AUSEA, which is a critical use case for Total Energies. When you deploy drones, you send remote pilots with a machine on site. (these people are trained telepilots, this is a specific skillset which has nothing to do with the Energy Sector)  that arrive to carry out a mission.

This telepilot is a drone specialist, but not a specialist in the field. He does not know what he has to measure. So the possibility to be freed of this, means that people who remotely control the operations can be away from the field, they don’t need to go on an offshore platform, they can stay behind their desks. They know exactly what they are looking for. They are data specialists, emissions data, and they give high-level orders.

So the operation becomes very simple to set up: a drone can be left at a station. It has our embedded intelligence, it receives the order from here, Total Energies HQ for instance, it does its mission and the data are retransmitted in real time with the interpretation that is made.


When we say automation we are actually meaning scalability. We believe that an industrialist who emits polluting emissions must have a way to precisely quantify what he emits in order to be able to take action and measure progresses. If he wants to systematise these operations, he has to use autonomous and intelligent solutions.

We add intelligence into the data collection process. It becomes much more exhaustive  thanks to the embedded intelligence we put into it than if we weren’t involved. And the implementation of these solutions is much simpler and less expensive.

So yes, we believe this is really the future of these types of measurements.


The story is pretty interesting. We started to work with Total Energies in 2018 about topics that didn’t involve emissions. At the start, we didn’t know about this project. We initially placed intelligence into drone operations for HSE related topics, crisis management, maintenance, inspection of facilities and then about dispelling doubts regarding safety.

For us, safety was already encompassing the environmental topic. That is to say when you operate sites that are dangerous, in case they are damaged, they can generate environmental disasters. So we started to do that and our technologies proved themselves. And at that time, a transversality took place at Total Energies.

We were introduced to the AUSEA team with the idea that maybe  for that project what we bring technologically for operations by drones could be interesting. And it is the case. The CNRS and Total Energies were actually partnering to make a sensor.  And this sensor was intended to be plugged on drones, with a complex environment, with pilots in order to make measurements on the field that were going be processed off-line. 

From the moment we started to partner together, we realised we had a perfect complementarity with the CNRS. We were taking their sensors which were attached to a drone we were adding our embedded intelligence, we were processing their algorithms inside the drone, we were accelerating the performance and the speed of this data processing. 

So, to keep it simple, the measurements which were originally about 2 to 4 hertz, meaning 2 to 4 measurements per second, were successfully pushed to 24 hertz. What does that mean? It means that between 2 measurement points on an oil platform, we have gone from about 1 meter 50 down to 20 cm between 2 measurements. So what ? This enables an accelerated speed of the drone, therefore operations take less time, they are not interrupted by the autonomy of the battery. And it also avoids missing  any emission peak. We can have methane emissions identified over less than a meter so we can provide more exhaustive measurements.

And the acceleration is also powering the autonomous navigation of the drone. In other words, when our embedded intelligence processes the data, it (the drone) gets the concentration measurements and depending on what it measures, it adapts its autonomous navigation algorithms to make sure it does measure everything and it avoids flying above places where nothing is happening.

And all this enables performance improvement, exhaustiveness of the collected data leading to a more precise volume sizing and ease of use.


As I said, it’s a question of performance and quality of measurements. In other words, I hope that most of the industrial companies generating  methane and CO2 emissions have activities around this. Total Energies wanted to go further than what already existed and searched more advanced performance through R&D with partners, with the CNRS and with us.

When we get such results, what we are also doing is making substantial investments on our end, in addition to what Total Energies is financing in order to create unbeaten technological standards that can be spread even beyond methane and CO2 type pollutants, so beyond greenhouse gases to reach other pollutants. For the Industry as a whole to adopt these type of processes, standardise them, and make them become, I would say, a common market practice.

And that, from my point of view, is extremely virtuous because, once again, we cannot imagine that an industrialist would only use data coming from satellite visualisation, let’s say, from a “planet policeman” to consequently act belatedly on its own emissions. So, from the moment he leads the movement towards the development of solutions that allow him to understand more precisely what he does well, that’s how we start a virtuous process up towards the minimisation of emissions.


What is obvious to me is that an industrialist who would not give himself the means to monitor extremely precisely its own emissions would not initiate the movement towards the reduction of these emissions.

Nowadays, there are global initiatives. I don’t know whether you know Climate Trace, with satellites which observe the Earth and are able to size emissions over a site, and then potentially badmouth an industrialist or a country saying: “You emit this much.”The assessment is then made ? We commonly say that when we look at a problem we have already solved it ?

But no, the one who looks at the problem can not solve it himself. So the sovereign approach of an industrialist who makes investments in R&D to give himself a precise and systematical way to measure pollutants is, to me,the sign he does this for a reason,and probably to reduce its emissions.

I didn’t know anything about the Energy sector before. I’m a Telecom and AI specialist. But this topic is engaging for us, it is the case for my whole team. This is becoming a major focus of investment and we want to head towards this subject.

Today, the fact that we’re contributing to this, we, as a technology company, consider that we’re doing our part in moving towards cleaner energies. Becoming aware that prior to our solution, including those based on drone measurements, an industrial company or an entity needing to measure might lack some emissions or not be exhaustive, means to me that we are improving the situation in a significant way.


To me, this project is making a difference for us, UAVIA, because it benefits of all our technologies, I would say to the maximum of their performance.

It’s always exciting to realise we’re innovating, we’re pushing technological barriers, and we’re doing so for the sake of a matter, a usage, which makes sense for our whole team, for all our shareholders, and potentially for all of our customers.

It’s differentiating because, in my opinion, no one else has ever implemented before what we’re doing with the CNRS and Total Energies.

Now the objective neither for Total Energies nor for us, is to keep this as a secret technology. I think that Total Energies will deploy this globally on all its sites, and we are going to progress with our technology to ensure that measurements of this type, including with partners like CNRS, become market standards. For the industry, in the broad sense, to make the most of these technologies, with each their own singularities (everyone doesn’t emits the same thing, there are different forms of pollutants, there are different sensors).

And we’re going to try to standardise our technologies, always at the highest possible level of performance, so that it becomes a global standard, one that is adopted by all industries. So yes, I think it’s an absolutely essential part of this topic.


No, not at all. I mentioned offshore sites because they are the most complex. When we manage to deploy something effective on offshore sites, we are basically able to do it anywhere. 

There are a few particularities, and one thing that perhaps appear a little simpler in offshore: the regulatory aspect. Since we are often outside of territorial waters, local administrations are probably a little less “cautious”. But in reality, a company like Total Energies has HSE procedures that are often much stricter than what would be imposed by a regulator!

So, all in all, we manage to facilitate operations on offshore sites. All production and processing sites are either greenhouse gas emission sites, or sites that present chemical emission risks in the event of an industrial accident. So the objective of our technologies is to measure and continuously monitor greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s also to be able to measure other emissions in a more spot-on manner, but automatically, with high reactivity in case of industrial problems, so that industrialists, security forces or firefighters can take decisions.

Today, when an industrial accident happens, as it did recently in France, there are models of propagation of toxic pollutants. Firefighters have access to that and have to make decisions based on predictions potentially evacuating areas to protect people. Having the ability to validate these predictive models in near real time to confirm or deny what is happening is another key issue that we will be addressing at UAVIA with the same technologies.


A company like ours is gradually expanding, finding specific markets, and one day, there is a subject we realise is broad, universal, urgent, that represents a large source of attractivity,  and for which your technology is able to bring something special.

We are exactly in that case. So, we decided at the beginning of this year with our investors, to build a major four-year investment plan to evolve as fast as possible and as far as possible towards the generalisation of these solutions.

And our aspiration is simple: to become the world leader in these meaningful technologies.

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