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Rheinallt Williams’ new business is flying high with some help from UK Steel Enterprise.

ExCaelo (meaning From the Sky in Latin) is a new drone enterprise, with a two-fold purpose.

On one hand, the former teacher and archaeologist is using the devices to inspire primary school pupils to learn basic skills by programming mini-drones on pre-planned flights in their schools.

The other aspect of the business is the expanding field of industrial and commercial work. Rheinallt’s larger drones, equipped with cameras, can inspect buildings and structures and provide essential information for renovation, or other work.

ExCaelo, based near Caerphilly, has taken off on both fronts since being launched a year ago.

“Drones have a huge number of uses, and more are being found all the time,” said Rheinallt. “An inspection of a building or structure is far cheaper than the traditional methods of scaffolding or using climbers with ropes.”

“An enormous amount of data can be collected relatively easily to inform projects,” he added.

Originally from Bangor, he studied Archaeology at University College London, and this understanding of structures and topography plays an important part in his approach. “Using the latest software, we are able to use overlapping images obtained by the drones to create three dimensional models.”

Rheinallt stresses that he is fully qualified to perform the tasks he sets for his fleet of drones. “It is vital that businesses in this field are certified and properly insured,” he says.

“Safety, and a thorough understanding of the rules and laws governing drone flying are essential.”

Schools in South Wales have responded well to ExCaelo and the firm has a busy schedule ahead.

“Teachers find that the children are fully engaged and thoroughly enjoy the drone sessions,” said Rheinallt.

The flight paths are calculated by the children who measure the routes and then programme the drones, learning important skills. Safety, of course is paramount at all times and all sessions are intricately planned and supervised.

ExCaelo received a £500 Business Start-Up grant from Caerphilly County Borough Council, a programme run jointly with Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.

The number of drone-based businesses in the UK is increasing rapidly. “Businesses and organisations are realising the potential of this way of doing things and new uses are appearing all the time,” said Rheinallt.

In the longer term, he is planning to reinvest in drones with larger carrying capacity and other features. “The sector is still developing and settling down at the present time.” he says. “Looking ahead, I feel that new uses and technologies will come along and I want to be ahead of the game in this.”

Glyn Thomas, Manager in Wales for UK Steel Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the launch of this venture. It is particularly pleasing as it is both educational, and of practical application for business and other organisations and we wish it every success.”

Cllr Sean Morgan, Deputy Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy said: “I am delighted that Caerphilly County Borough Council and UK Steel Enterprise have supported ExCaelo with a Business Start-Up Grant, which provides financial support to help eligible new businesses develop”.

Photo Caption: On the way up: from left Glyn Thomas UK Steel Enterprise, Rheinallt Williams ExCaelo and Claire Vokes Caerphilly County Council.