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Frankfurt am Main transport company relies on Droniq for drones

Frankfurt, 24.04.2024 - Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main (VGF) is expanding its drone activities. In addition to inspecting its rail network, VGF is planning to carry out 3D surveys from the air in future. To this end, it has expanded its range of drones. VGF is working closely with Droniq GmbH, also based in Frankfurt, to expand its drone activities.

Oliver Luksic, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Digital and Transport: "In order to keep the costs of local transport low, we need the widespread use of new technologies. Especially when it comes to the labor-intensive maintenance and repair of rail networks, drones help to become more efficient and deploy resources in a targeted manner. I am delighted that Stadtwerke Frankfurt is relying on a local specialist. As a federal government, we are working on technology-friendly framework conditions to make Germany a leading market for drones and to get as many drones in the air as possible."

"As a transport company of the city of Frankfurt, we are also responsible for the infrastructure of the streetcars and subway trains. Constantly breaking new ground - including in the maintenance of this infrastructure - is a matter of course for us. The expert knowledge with which Droniq supported us was a tremendous help in our current drone project," says Michael Rüffer, VGF Managing Director for Technology and Operations.

With the support of Droniq, VGF applied for the necessary operating license for its drone operations in 2023. The corresponding permit has now been available since this March. Only with this permit can VGF use its drones in accordance with the current EU Drone Regulation. As part of the application process, which was very laborious for everyone involved, Droniq carried out a risk assessment for VGF's above-ground rail network. The VGF's above-ground rail network covers around 280 kilometers.

In addition to the operating license, Droniq supports the VGF in training its drone pilots. Last year, three VGF employees were trained as remote pilots. A 3D surveying training course will take place in April. This will teach them how to fly the drone for this application and how to evaluate the data obtained from the flight. Droniq also equips the VGF with the appropriate drone equipment.

"VGF is one of the first major companies to show that drone operations are also playing an increasingly important role in Hesse," says Droniq CEO Jan-Eric Putze. "We are therefore all the more pleased to support VGF in its operations and show that Frankfurt can also benefit from the professional use of drones."

Launched as a pilot project in 2019, the drones are now an integral part of the VGF fleet. They strengthen the team of the responsible "Electrical Systems" department and make their work easier.

Almost every day, one of the ten trained drone pilots is out and about with one of the devices, inspecting wall anchors and other components of the VGF overhead line infrastructure, for example. "Previously, this had to be done by three colleagues who traveled with a tower car - their expertise is now available for other activities," says project manager Rainer Walther, who holds the position of Flight Operations Manager for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) at VGF. The photos taken during the inspections are then read out and the images are analyzed and archived.

One of the drones can also fly without problems in bad weather, e.g. rain, snow and even in strong winds up to wind force 6 (approx. 49 km/h) and at night, and can therefore be used to obtain an overall view of the situation, especially in the event of disruptions - which, as we know, do not always occur in good weather. The drone also provides support in other areas of work: it can check whether contact wire and point heating systems are working and has already helped to document the condition of roofs on VGF properties.

With the help of the new technology, VGF can counteract the shortage of skilled workers and also increase the safety of the employees working on the catenary system.

"We are proud of our pilots and of the fact that the VGF is a pioneer throughout Germany with this innovative project: other local transport companies are already taking their lead from how we proceeded with the introduction of the aircraft," summarizes Rüffer.

Press release - Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main relies on Droniq for drones
Four of the ten VGF drone pilots (from left to right): Michael Steitz, Lina Plaue, Sureewan Thong-In, Rainer Walther | Copyright: Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main (VGF)

Press contact:

Phil Stephan, Sr. PR Manager
Phone: +49 171 6099 747
Email: phil.stephan@droniq.de

Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbH (VGF)
Corporate Communications
Telephone: 069 213-27495
E-mail: presse@vgf-ffm.de

About Droniq GmbH:

Droniq GmbH is a joint venture founded in 2019 by DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung (51% share) and Deutsche Telekom (49% share). Based in Frankfurt am Main, the company's mission is to promote the professional and safe use of drones by public authorities and organizations with security tasks, as well as by companies.

The core of Droniq's product range is the Droniq Traffic Management System for drones
(UTM). The UTM shows the pilot all surrounding air traffic - manned and unmanned. Other air traffic participants can also see the drone if required. With this system, which is unique in Germany, Droniq is creating the basis for the safe use of drones even beyond visual range.

Other services offered by Droniq include the sale of drones for commercial and official drone use as well as hardware and software solutions for safe operation. It also supports its customers in applying for operating licenses and advises on mission planning. With its Droniq Academy in Frankfurt and Mönchengladbach, among other locations, the company also offers the opportunity to complete training courses and examinations for remote pilots. Droniq's customers include federal and state police units as well as fire departments, rescue services and companies from the chemical, logistics, construction and security sectors. www.droniq.de

About Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbh

Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main, or VGF for short, is Frankfurt's transport company and the city's transport service provider. Around 400 rail vehicles provide comprehensive mobility on nine subway and ten streetcar lines. VGF is also responsible for the rolling and fixed infrastructure, traffic management, cleanliness, safety, service and customer service.

VGF employs more than 2,700 people, including almost 900 rail drivers. This makes VGF one of the largest employers in the city and the Rhine-Main region. It ensures that Frankfurt, its now over 760,000 inhabitants and those who live, work or visit the city as tourists keep moving during the day. On weekdays, more than 380,000 commuters turn Frankfurt into a city of millions - and fortunately not all of them use their cars. In 2022, the VGF transported over 150 million passengers in its underground trains and streetcars.

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