Meet Casia, our Detect and Avoid system for BVLOS operations

May 2019 marked one of the hugest accomplishments in Iris Automation’s history to date — launching Casia, the product we’ve been working towards since our inception.

Casia is the first commercially available computer vision detect-and-avoid solution to enable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for autonomous vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), to truly understand the aviation environment around it as if a pilot were on board.

We launched just in time for AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019, the largest drone trade show in the world. In the weeks leading up to AUVSI, the Iris team worked around the clock to pull everything off — planning the launch party, decking out our exhibitor booth and designing swag, launching our Casia webpage, and finalizing all of the logistical odds & ends for this monumental commercial release.

The AUVSI Iris team at our exhibitor’s booth.

You can read all the juicy details about Casia’s features, our extensive testing protocol, and its many business use cases in our press release or in one of the many articles that came out following our launch announcement. But today we want to give you a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of what led up to the launch and how the team feels now that we’ve achieved what we’ve been working so hard towards in the last four years. Here’s what they had to say:

Tamiko, Business Development

We brainstormed names at the 2018 Iris retreat, voted as a team, and I finalized with leadership. Casia was a response to an industry dominated by generic masculine names and long acronyms; we wanted a more embodied and personable name that gives a sense of safety. We looked at successful brands in the aviation/aerospace field, sampled the best, and sprinkled in a bit of femininity.

As for the colors, we had red as an accent already, and based on our market research we wanted to add a deep blue. I built out a color palette, brand identity, and personality where I could. For example, outlining what type of photos we take and the story we’re telling.

It’s really exciting to have the creative pieces that I put a lot of time into be showcased throughout the launch. I’m looking forward to further iterating on my work.

Casia launch party at Punchbowl in Chicago with branded swag designed by Tamiko.

Alex, Senior Flight Operations Technician

When I first started at Iris Automation we only had two multi-rotors equipped with bulky Nvidia Jetson TX1 kits. One of the first challenges we faced was simply integrating our module into other aircraft due to its size and specific energy requirements. This lead to several iterations of the module to get it smaller and more robust. Through these challenges I have always been optimistic because of the constant progress we made — it seems like every week we worked with R&D and Engineering to test a new functionality.

I have always tried to work for companies that I am proud of and Iris Automation is no exception. Having been in the front lines of watching the module evolve has been extremely rewarding. I get to see how each individual in the company contributed to the product and it’s successful commercial launch. I am excited to see how the module continues to progress and its impact on how the world will operate in the future.

Casia onboard our drone Pinky.

Alejandro, Director of R&D

It’s really amazing the amount of progress we have made since I joined the company three years ago. We went from intuition and theoretical design for how our system should work while dreaming about large amounts of data coming in for training and testing — and now we’re there! 

A system like this is never “finished,” but we are at a great stage. We have a stable solution showing a repeatable performance and we’re working to take it even further. We have thousands of real encounters being used for training and testing every day; we have hundreds of thousands of simulated encounters being produced by our simulator and looking astonishingly real. More importantly, we have the processes in place and a very deep understanding of the problem we’re already solving. Now it’s about expanding capabilities beyond our initial design and setting the standards for what Sense and Avoid means in this industry.

Taylor, Reno Office Manager 

I took lead on the launch party and loved planning it. I worked out the space, food, drink, and other logistics, and worked with the event manager to make sure everything went smoothly. In the end we were incredibly pleased to see our hours of hard work come together seamlessly. So many of the attendees had such an incredible time that they stayed over an hour and a half after the event ended. It is my favorite thing to do and I can’t wait to hopefully do it again. (Check out Taylor’s recent blog post about our Reno office!)