Monday, 25 April 2022

Split Startup Alpha Sagittarius Creates Dual-Purpose Drone

April the 25th, 2022 - The Split startup Alpha Sagittarius, made up of a group of talented students, has created drones for both military and civilian purposes. They say they've been receiving inquiries ever since the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, eight students from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Split (FESB) who make up the Split startup Alpha Sagittarius, have designed and created the VECTOR V-3M unmanned system under the Aero-Navis Systems brand, part of which is an unmanned aerial vehicle of modular design and intended for dual use, ie for civil and military purposes.

Modular construction

"One socially useful purpose for drones is search and rescue, the control of land and maritime traffic, fire control, and the delivery of emergency medical supplies such as vaccines to remote locations. The drone is commercially used in the industry for the supervision and inspection of buildings, mines, power plants, gas pipelines, transmission lines, various gas emissions, etc. These are all activities in which unmanned systems are already used,'' explained CEO and Chief Engineer, Djani Vrsalovic.

The system also includes communication equipment, control equipment, mission management equipment, transport and service equipment and a launcher. Their drone can fly for three hours in a row, while with the multirotor configuration, it is able to fly for 30-40 minutes, and its range is defined by its own communication systems.

HD images are transmitted up to 50 kilometres, and the control and telemetry lasts for approximately 100 kilometres. The Split startup Alpha Sagittarius' drone is autonomous in performing various tasks, meaning it can be programmed to perform some tasks entirely independently.

“Our unmanned aerial vehicle is in the shape of flying wings, but there's the possibility of mounting modules with rotors on the wings, which turn it into a VTOL drone (an aircraft that can take off and land vertically).

We're planning a third version where the wings can be replaced with two multirotor modules on each side, each with four rotors. As such, the drone would become a classic multirotor. It's also possible to change the load, depending on the type of mission that needs to be performed. This gives a modular construction of the system that then provides great flexibility in use.

For example, let's say one journey requires a lot of hovering, vertical flights at short range for the purpose of the detailed survey of buildings or bridges, while the next day, there may be a need to record or take something to let's say... Vis, using fixed wings that provide a long range but need a landing surface and takeoff. VTOL would then be in the middle in terms of its characteristics. The system is available on the market with the drone in the basic version with a fixed wing. We're now nearing the end of the development of the VTOL version, the multirotor is conceptually complex, but it's what naturally follows in terms of finalisation. We also worked a lot on the communication systems and the control systems. We've never done a formal presentation to the market and a launch, but we've started to offer it to potential buyers,'' explained Vrsalovic.

The Split startup Alpha Sagittarius procures materials and equipment from all over the world, and they have experienced disruptions in the supply and production chains on their own proverbial skin, meaning some components are harder to come by. The technology is entirely theirs - they designed, manufactured, tested and fly it themselves. In addition to their drone, they also worked on the communication themselves, as well as the control station and much more.

Complex regulations remain dominant

According to Vrsalovic, the Croatian regulations on unmanned aerial vehicles are complex, as they are across the territory of the European Union. The rules, added Djani, are constantly changing because the market is also changing, technology is advancing rapidly and legislators need to keep up with it all, which means constant dynamics and alterations when it comes to drone regulations.

"There aren't many drone producers here in Croatia, so the agencies don't have a clear path when it comes to what, when, how and why. It's somewhat clear for drone users, but it's a little harder for manufacturers. Certification is a special challenge for BVLOS operations, which means operations out of sight when the pilot doesn't see the aircraft, but is operating it only remotely, and at long distances,'' he explained.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, interest in such systems has grown globally, we have witnessed the crash of an unmanned aircraft in the centre of Zagreb, and Vrsalovic says that they have already had several inquiries about the Split startup Alpha Sagittarius' unmanned system outside of the borders of the Republic of Croatia.

"It's difficult to reach state services, agencies and ministries here on our market. There's a lot of hesitation when it comes to accessing some advanced technologies and startup companies are struggling to get to the necessary government services. During the Homeland War, Croatia was one of the pioneers in the use of unmanned systems, but we forgot this technology as time passed and we didn't use our acquired knowledge. Now we've started from the very beginning in some areas,'' stated the director of the Split startup Alpha Sagittarius.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 10 September 2021

DroneDays 2021: All About Drones in Biograd na Moru

September 11, 2021 - The DroneDays 2021 event will turn Biograd na Moru near the popular city of Zadar into an aerial robotics mecca from October 4-5.

Airplanes are fun, but unless yo're a pilot, you can only passively enjoy the stunning aerial view as you travel the beaten path managed by the captain in a cockpit. No control, no say on the height or the direction of the above ground observing experience.

Although providing that exciting sense of freedom of flying on a screen only, drones are much better options for those who want to take control of an aerial space. For those who want to learn more about drones, October 4-5 needs to be marked in the diary for DroneDays 2021, a Croatian conference on all things related to drones.

''DroneDays 2021 is a two-day workshop focused on unmanned aerial vehicles, which will be held on 4th and 5th October 2021 in Biograd na Moru, Croatia. The programme consists of keynote lectures, an exhibition area, and is focused on unmanned aerial vehicle applications and end-user industries. It will serve as a meeting place for experts from the industry and academia, end-users, as well as regulatory bodies from the region,'' reads the official website of the event.

DroneDays 2021 will be held at the Ilirija Resort at Biograd na Moru, and 14 speakers have confirmed their arrival at the event at the time of writing this article, with more invited. The confirmed names include drone experts from across Croatia and abroad, from academics from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) to foreign universities and even NATO.

DroneDays 2021 promises an exciting two days for drone lovers in a more theoretical approach with conferences hosting presentations from keynote industry leaders to more practical opportunities. These include exhibitions (open for the public) where visitors can have face-to-face meetings with leading industrial companies from across the region, showcasing their latest products and services. In addition, there will be a flying area where you can participate in live demonstrations of the latest technological achievements in aerial robotics, and there is also a B2B event where you can meet new partners who share your love for aerial robotics.

Much like drones, the event isn't free. Would-be participants must register on the website and buy a 10 euro ticket. That ticket includes two-day access to the whole programme as well as accreditation, a registration package, workshop materials, and coffee breaks.

With the discussion of order and freedom at large, the debates concerning the legal frame of operating drones in Croatia may well be the most interesting topics of this year's edition of DroneDays.

As TCN previously reported, drone regulations in Croatia have two levels of authority, one that is national and the other concerning EU Drone Regulation that came into force back in 2020.

After the conference in Biograd na Moru, why not hop to nearby Zadar? Learn more in our TC guide.

For more about technology in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Varazdin FOI Opens Drone Pilot Academy Aimed at Students

July the 8th, 2021 - The Varazdin FOI is bringing the sky and access to it even closer in their following of global trends in Northern Croatia. Meet the Drone Pilot Academy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the rapid development of technology has made unmanned aerial vehicles available to a wider range of users, regardless of their age. Today, there are toy drones on the market for around 100 kuna, but also professional drones for around 100 thousand kuna. Operating a popular drone requires preparation, knowledge, and responsibility for one’s own actions because irresponsible behaviour can have dire consequences, in regard to human and animal lives, as well as property.

Following global trends and in accordance with the relevant legal regulations, the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics (Varazdin FOI), in cooperation with Varazdin County and the European Talent Centre Croatia - Centres of Excellence in Varazdin County, has developed the Drone Pilot Academy aimed at high school students. All participants are provided with equipment in the form of drones for use during the training.

Silvija Zagorec, Deputy Prefect of Varazdin County, pointed out that the Varazdin FOI's education programme aims to create young "pilots" who will use the airspace in a responsible way.

"With this partnership, the county is raising the bar of the quality of the educational offer it boasts and imposing itself as the leading county in terms of technological innovations in education. We're proud that this academy is being launched and that we'll contribute through the training so that new technologies are being applied responsibly and in a safe way,'' said Zagorec at a recently held presentation of this training at the Varazdin FOI.

The Drone Pilot Academy, they say at the Faculty of Varazdin, is designed as a set of workshops that will be held in the municipality of Beretinec, using the natural beauty of Varazdin County. Through education, the partners, as they point out, want to enable, above all, students to responsibly operate drones in compliance with EU and Croatian regulations and learn their application in various fields.

“At FOI Varazdin, we're constantly working hard to strengthen the educational offer we have both for our students and for the wider community in which we operate. It's our social responsibility to contribute to the community in which we operate, which we do best through what we're the strongest in - quality education that enables the strengthening of competitiveness and long-term economic development,'' said FOI Dean Nina Begicevic Redjep, emphasising that education allows participants to safely access the exam of the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency and obtain a license to operate unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Varazdin FOI training, which starts at the end of August this year, lasts five working days and is intended primarily for high school and university students. In addition to the theoretical knowledge obtained in the fields of physics, electronics, communication and multimedia necessary to operate an aircraft, participants will learn practical knowledge and gain flying experience.

“It's invaluable for participants to acquire the skill of operating drones so that they can operate them safely. Therefore, for the practical part, we've prepared a programme that includes maintenance and control of drones through the simulation of solo flights in the simulator, after which participants are made ready for the most exciting part of this education - solo flights out in the open,'' stated Boris Tomas, assistant professor.

The project is also supported by the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA), whose experts are involved in the implementation of the training, and CCAA air safety inspector Damir Bezik said that Croatia was among the first in the European Union to adopt legal regulations on this topic. 

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 28 May 2021

From a Bird's Perspective: A Look into 2021 Croatian Drone Regulations

May 29, 2021 - Have a drone? Familiarize yourself with the 2021 Croatian drone regulations. 

The last decade has seen a rise in the popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. drones) both among amateur tourists and seasoned professionals visiting Croatia. However, in order to legally fly them on Croatian territory, you need a permit In an effort to speed up the process of registration and permit issuance, Croatia Control Ltd -  Croatian air navigation service provider launched the world's first app to apply for such permits - AMC (The Airspace Management Cell) Portal Mobile.  

In 2016, TCN's reported on a story of a tourist from the U.S. who had to remove his promo video of Split from Youtube, while his Croatian partner received a fine, because of the violation of the Croatian Aerial Vehicle Ordinance. And in 2018, we did a piece on the unclear rules on who is the competent authority for issuing drone permits. So, did anything change since then? Yes and no.

In 2020, the new EU Drone Regulation came into force in Croatia, so there are essentially two levels of authority you ought to obey: the supranational (the EU level) and the national (Croatian level). Let's look at the EU level first. 

As Drone Traveller writes, the EU Drone Regulation has significantly harmonized the rules across the EU. Now all you have to do only is register as a remote operator in one EU country of your choice in order for your drone license to be accepted across the rest of the EU.  

Under the new EU Regulation, registration is mandatory for all drone operators, unless both of the following requirements are met: 1) the drone weighs less than 250 grams and 2) is not equipped with sensors to collect personal data (e.g. camera, microphone). 

Keep in mind that, if you want to capture footage, you must also receive a separate permit from the State Geodetic Administration (this is where the national level of authority comes into play).

All drones must be visibly marked with the individual registration number (e-ID). Depending on the category, pilots must take exams to obtain the EU drone license and must insure their drones.

You can check the detailed instructions on the site of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency by clicking here

As for the national regulations, in order to operate a drone (but, remember! one without sensors for collecting personal data) a person must be at least 16 years of age and make sure that the drone insurance they have taken out is valid in Croatia and covers any third-party damage that may occur. Ideally, proof of this insurance should be written in English.

Depending on the area that the flight will be conducted above, there are two separate procedures:

The automated procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure (5 minutes before activity start) is applied if the flights are conducted:

  • in uncontrolled airspace up to 120 m above ground level
  • in controlled airspace outside the radius of 5 km from the aerodrome reference point, up to 50 m above ground level.

The automated procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure for obtaining a real-time approval on the day of activity is available via the AMC Portal Mobile application in three steps:

  • Sign up with the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency’s unmanned aircraft system operators register.
  • Download the app from Google Play or App Store to your smartphone.
  • Sign up or log in to the app with your username and password.

Submit your request via the AMC Portal or send us the filled-in form by e-mail no later than 7 working days before the planned day of activity start to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The regular procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure (7 working days before activity start) is applied if the flights are conducted:

  • in uncontrolled airspace over 120 m above ground level
  • in controlled airspace within the radius of 5 km from the aerodrome reference point and/or
  • in controlled airspace over 50 m above ground level.

For the regular procedure, fill in the form and submit it via the AMC Portal 7 working days before the planned activity. 

You can check the competent air traffic control unit here

As for aerial footage, State Geodetic Administration is responsible for issuing permits for taking aerial photography, but the application form available at the SGA site is entirely in (sigh) Croatian. Hint: this is the part I talked about in the introduction of this article - the 'still no changes' part. Although the Decree on Aerial Photography has been amended, the basic rules which we wrote about in this article have remained the same.

To sum it up,  you may not take aerial recordings for private purposes. If you are a business owner however and are registered to take aerial footage in the country in which you registered your business, you are able to apply for a permit, but I recommend you start the process at least a couple of months in advance, for your own peace of mind.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Fire Brigades in Croatia to Get Ten Drones as a Donation from Tele2

October 28, 2020 – This year, with a donation of ten drones, Tele2 continues to support all the fire brigades who take care of the protection of Croatian natural beauties, property, and the safety of all citizens daily.

As reports, over 100,000 firefighters from all over the country took part in just over 20,000 firefighting interventions this year. That is 46 percent more interventions than in 2019. This is shown by the report of the Croatian Fire Brigade, which emphasizes the specifics of this year because, in addition to defense and fire protection, firefighters also help the crisis headquarters in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and in repairing the damage caused by the Zagreb earthquake and numerous floods.


Project ‘DRONacija’

The key contribution to the efficiency of fire brigades is certainly their technical equipment, to which the use of modern technology can significantly contribute. Precisely because they are aware of how much technology contributes to the daily work of fire brigades, Tele2 has been donating drones to fire brigades in Croatia for years as part of its socially responsible project “DRONacija”.

Namely, Tele2 has donated drones for 15 fire brigades throughout Croatia for the past three years. By donating drones to fire brigades of Zabok, Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Hvar, and Orebić, Tele2 helped protect as much as 10 percent of the total area of Croatia.


Drones as an aid for earthquake damage

Assistance to citizens, but also the safety of firefighters themselves are extremely important in all types of emergency interventions, and one of them was during eliminating the consequences of the earthquake that hit Zagreb and its surroundings in March this year, where firefighters recorded over six thousand interventions.

"That morning, March 22, all fire brigades in Zagreb and the surrounding area were on the field in the minutes after the earthquake and then for days, to remove those most critical facilities that threatened the safety of all citizens. Of course, the drones were right next to us because we needed the help of technology in inspecting hard-to-reach and tall objects. Unfortunately, during one such intervention, one of our drones was destroyed. We were extremely happy with the quick reaction of Tele2 because they called immediately and donated a new drone to us," recalled Siniša Jembrih, Commander of the Zagreb Public Fire Brigade. Namely, Tele2 donated a drone to JVP Zagreb in 2018 as part of “DRONacija” project.

"Drones have been very helpful in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. They allowed us a quick overview of the damage to the chimneys and roofs of the buildings. This significantly accelerated the interventions of firefighters, but also the rehabilitation of the most critical facilities. In practice, this meant that the drones gave us a view of the roof even before the firefighters climbed to see the situation, and thus the safety of firefighters in the field was greatly improved," said Siniša Jembrih.


Assistance to those who care about our safety

Tele2 points out they are proud that thanks to this project, they have the opportunity to directly help the work of Croatian firefighters, and thus all citizens.

"We are extremely happy to have been partners for many years with those who care about our safety daily. The organization of the public call and the donation of as many as ten drones this year are another step forward in our support for firefighter heroes," said Marijana Grubešić, coordinator of socially responsible business at Tele2.

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Saturday, 2 November 2019

Fishing Monitoring With 6 Drones Over Croatian Adriatic Begins

As Morski writes on the 2nd of November, 2019, the implementation of the new Croatian Adriatic sea surveillance system has begun. The Ministry of Agriculture has also co-financed state-of-the-art fishing and territorial sea monitoring and control equipment through the EU Fisheries Fund. It is an investment of as much as 72 million kuna.

Six drones were purchased for this job, they can fly for 150 kilometres and be in the air for as long as six hours at a time.

''All the time the task is being carried out, the real-time image goes to their fishery monitoring centre in Zagreb and in coordination, which means a system of contact with inspectors,'' explains Major Božo Kriletić, deputy commander of the Centre for Unmanned Aviation Systems.

The army operates the drone over Biokovo, and inspectors from Zagreb indicate where it should look. There is a vessel located out at sea all the time, and two of them are on the Adriatic and are of Croatian production. They are also equipped for fishing inspection, reports HRT.

''Basically, we aim to have this as oversight on who commits an offense, which means that we don't carry out formal controls but that we really have some indication that a violation has been committed when it has,'' pointed out Mario Škorjanec, Head of the Fisheries Inspection Service - South.

Two more coast guard and four customs vessels will be procured with European Union (EU) money, and these, just like those procured by the Ministry of Agriculture, will be used mostly for fishing control, and now everything is ready for the competent authorities to engage in the monitoring of fishing in the Croatian Adriatic, as well as the hunting of poachers.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more on illegal fishing in the Croatian Adriatic and what the authorities are doing to put a stop to it.