Home DRONE NEWSINTERVIEWS Drones World Editor Kartikeya in Conversation with Mr. Michael Norcia,Co-Founder &CEO, Pyka

Drones World Editor Kartikeya in Conversation with Mr. Michael Norcia,Co-Founder &CEO, Pyka

by Editor
Mr. Michael Norcia Co-Founder & CEO, Pyka

Tell us about your experience in the field of UAVs and what your fields were of expertise before venturing into UAVs? 

Aviation has been a lifelong passion of mine. Before designing large fixed-wing UAVs, I worked on piloted eVTOL aircraft, and before those, it was pretty much any battery-powered aircraft I could get my hands on. After earning a degree in computational physics, I landed a job in the eVTOL industry designing advanced power systems for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. My experience of the limitations of that technology inspired me to develop a more pragmatic approach to autonomous electric aircraft, which ultimately led me to start Pyka.

What are the reasons behind choosing a fixed-wing over the Multi Rotors?

My vision was to build autonomous electric aircraft that could solve the highest-need problems in aviation as soon as possible. For addressing large-scale crop protection and heavy-payload/long-range cargo transportation, fixed wing aircraft offer a very practical solution that is safe, reliable, and relatively well-understood from a regulatory perspective. In addition, fixed wing aircraft are significantly more efficient than multi rotors in terms of payload, range, capital cost, etc.

How good are fixed-wing agricultural drones in terms of cost effectiveness, crop yield and conservation of resources?

The economic benefits of Pelican Spray are unprecedented. Autonomous operation yields greater spray precision, which means increased efficiency of chemical usage and therefore, significantly reduced chemical costs. The capability to operate the aircraft at night is another major benefit of its autonomous technology because it allows farmers to effectively target nocturnal pests, spray during optimal weather conditions, and nearly double their viable window of spray time. Electrification also reduces operating cost, allowing for the elimination of fuel costs and a significant reduction in maintenance costs.

What advancements do you see in the Agritech sector in the next decade? What would be the participation of Drones?

We expect to see drones replace the majority of crewed vehicles in the aerial application industry over the next decade.

What are the various products and services that Pyka has to offer currently? Could you elaborate on its specifications, capabilities and the possible modifications? Who are your primary customers?

In January 2023, we launched a variant of the Pelican platform for cargo transportation.   Pelican Cargo shares 80% design commonality with Pelican Spray, with a few key modifications. Namely, we increased the size of the fuselage and incorporated a nose door configuration to accommodate bulk cargo within about 70 cubic feet of volume. We also increased the battery capacity of the aircraft to achieve a range of up to 200 mi with a max payload of 400 lbs. Our primary commercial use case for this product is enabling rural connectivity, for example through enabling autonomous interisland

What will be the cost of each unit? What kind of tech & service support will be provided?

All Pelican aircraft are available to customers on a competitive, utilization-based lease rate. Each aircraft comes with all operational systems, spares, training, product support and warranties.

What are the major countries Pyka is currently targeting? What is the process to buy drones from you?

For our aerial application product, we are primarily operating in the banana growing regions of the world, including Central America and parts of South America. We are in the process of expanding our operations in Brazil and the United States and will target other countries as their regulatory landscapes become more favorable. Customers interested in leasing our aircraft should contact us through our website at www.flypyka.com.

Congratulations on your recent certification, how do you see the cargo market especially last mile deliveries? What is your

Thank you, we are quite proud of it! Our recent authorization from the FAA for commercial operation in the United States was specific to our agricultural aircraft, though we are on track to secure a similar authorization for our cargo aircraft in the near future.

The global demand for autonomous electric cargo transportation is massive. We see the potential for this technology to enhance express logistics networks, particularly in the middle-mile arena, enable connectivity of remote regions of the world, and ensure fast and reliable shipping of critical supplies to areas in need.

What are your suggestions to youngster who wish to choose Agriculture Drone Industry?

It’s an exciting time to join the drone industry. There are hundreds of useful applications for drone technology and there is no better time than now to get involved. I encourage anyone interested in joining our team to check out our careers page at www.flypyka.com/careers for current job opportunities.

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