Latest News

Jun 30, 2016 | News

Iris Automation gives drones the ability to see beyond line of sight


Iris Automation, a drone technology startup, wants to be the eyes in the sky for drones. The company has been building an advanced collision-avoidance system for industrial drones for the past year, and it is currently looking for more companies to join its early adoption stage.

“Right now, drones are piloted by trained operators who go out to work sites for individual inspection flights. Drone pilots are skilled aviators but even they struggle to see and avoid obstacles and aircraft when operating drones at extended range, limiting their current operation to closed, line-of-sight environments,” wrote Alexander Harmsen, CEO and cofounder of Iris Automation, in a blog post.

The solution is designed to provide drone operators with 3D models of a drone’s world in real time, track other objects, avoid traditional range limitations, and support a 500m detection range.

“This technology is the Holy Grail for the industry, and our entire market is going to change with such a revolutionary product,” said David Birkett, CEO of Stratus Aeronautics, an Iris Automation customer.

According to the company, in the past six months it has been able to develop a prototype of its patent-pending computer vision technology, use it onboard drones with select partners, use a team with computer vision experts and deep learning from NASA, and raise a pre-seed round of funding.

The company believes the drone industry will not be able to take off unless drones are truly autonomous, and in the near future drones will no longer be able to rely on operators or GPS waypoints. Use cases for the company’s technology include mining exploration, agricultural surveying, geographical mapping, search and rescue efforts, package delivery, and forest inspection.

“This is a stellar team in a market that is exploding,” said Jenny Yang, CEO and cofounder of Metafor Software. “There is very little doubt in my mind that Iris Automation will be pushing the industrial drone market to new limits and will be setting the standard in situational awareness for years to come.”

Other features of the technology include lower battery consumption, onboard sensing software, a lightweight design, and the ability to avoid air-to-air collisions.