Iris Automation Selected for White House Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program

May 9, 2018


Washington, D.C. – May 9th, 2018:

Iris Automation, the leading developer of collision avoidance technology for drones, will join the next era of American commercial drone operations through the White House Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.

On Wednesday, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced ten pilot programs, led by state, local and tribal governments across the country, to push the boundaries of drone operations and integration into the National Air Space. The program’s main focus is to expand regulations around drone usage, such as flights beyond a pilot’s line of sight, which are restricted by existing rules. Iris technology will support three lead applicants: the State of Alaska, the City of Reno, and the Kansas Department of Transportation, with teammates including Alyeska Pipeline, Boeing Insitu, and drone delivery company, Flirtey.

Iris Automation’s Chief Executive, Alexander Harmsen, welcomed the news saying;

“Restrictions on beyond visual line of sight flights have halted many of the significant gains industries like agriculture, infrastructure, and oil & gas have yet to realize from drone technology. Our team is delighted to be selected by Secretary Chao and the White House to enable these innovative projects with our life-saving technology, strengthening American business and ensuring safety remains a top priority for the emerging UAS industry.”

Limits on BVLOS operations in the U.S. are due to the high risk of collision between aircraft, which is typically mitigated through “see and avoid” techniques utilized by human pilots. Without safety equipment like the Iris Automation Collision Avoidance system, which uses computer vision and artificial intelligence as substitute for a human pilot, drones run the risk of causing airborne catastrophes and loss of life. Through the White House program, Iris Automation technology will be used to support innovative drone use cases such as pipeline inspection in rural Alaska, drone delivery of life-saving defibrillators in Reno, Nevada, and agricultural surveying in Kansas.

“The development and validation of sense and avoid technology is absolutely crucial for the U.S. drone industry to flourish,” said Catherine Cahill, Director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, “Iris Automation’s support of Alaska’s successful bid for the UASIPP initiative will enable us to operate routine missions beyond visual line of sight with unparalleled levels of safety.”

About Iris Automation:

Iris Automation is a venture-backed company developing collision avoidance technology, allowing drones to see the world like a pilot does. By unlocking safe beyond visual line of sight flights, Iris Automation technology will enable thousands of companies to increase safety and efficiency in their day-to-day work.

Iris Automation’s Sense and Avoid system uses a camera, processor, and computer vision software to perceive the surroundings of the drone, enabling collision avoidance. The computer vision software classifies and tracks moving objects, and identifies their trajectory and velocity in relation to the drone it is attached to. The software then acts like a high-level supervisor to the drone’s autopilot, instructing it to execute  automated avoidance maneuvers where necessary and informing the remote pilot in command of emergency situations.

Watch our technology in action here.


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