sUAS News – Iris Automation raise $1.5 Million for BVLOS flights

Jan 18, 2017

Reproduced from sUAS News.

Iris Automation, a recent graduate of the Y­Combinator startup accelerator program, today announced that it has raised $1.5 million USD to commercialize a Sense & Avoid system that will unlock the industrial drone industry by allowing the drones to finally fly autonomously. The system provides real­time situational awareness using computer vision and deep learning, allowing the drones to avoid collision in­flight. The company is backed by notable investors including Social Capital, GGV, Bee Partners, Liquid 2, Kevin Moore, and Paul Buchheit. Iris Automation has also launched its early adopter program for selected companies, allowing them to gain early access to the technology before it reaches the open market.

“We are delighted to have raised this round from leading investors in the drone space. We’re using this investment to accelerate product development, scale the early adopters program, and make completely autonomous and Beyond­ Visual ­Line­ of ­Sight drone operation a reality” Alexander Harmsen, CEO Iris Automation.

The Iris system uses a camera and computer vision algorithms to track moving objects (such as aircraft) to avoid air­to­air collisions and create an accurate 3D reconstruction of the world in real­time as the drone flies, without any previous knowledge of the environment. The system is built to a specific form factor with weight, size, and power limitations, and is designed to meet reliability standards, which accompany industrial applications in the aircraft industry.

“With a range of over 1500ft, our system is 50x more powerful than the “bumper solutions” that some current drone companies are using today with a mere 30ft detection range. Furthermore, the product is a stand alone unit, agnostic to all platforms and can be integrated into any commercial drone in the world.” ­ Alejandro Galindo, Head of R&D.

“For many companies, industrial drone operations would not be economically viable without the ability to fly autonomously and Beyond­ Visual ­Line ­of ­Sight (BVLOS). Pipeline inspection, package delivery, large agribusinesses, and mining exploration are examples where BVLOS operations are needed and where Iris’ Sense & Avoid system would be crucial in enabling true autonomy” ­ Hassan Bhatti, Head of Growth & Partnerships.

Regulators also believe that Sense & Avoid technology is critical in in the deconfliction of manned and unmanned aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration’s new UAV rules (commonly referred to as Part 107) includes a waiver process for BVLOS flights. This waiver process has been created to allow drone companies to trial new technologies, for the FAA to evaluate new rules and to provide an avenue for certain operators to fly BVLOS. The Iris Early Adopter Program is an opportunity for drone companies to apply for BVLOS operations through the waiver process by using the Iris System before it is commercially available.

Iris Automation is leading the charge on the use of technology to enable safer drone operations and is looking for partners in the UAV and drone space that believe in the same vision to work with through its early adopter program. If your company is looking to be the first one to have a fleet equipped with BVLOS capabilities, please sign up here.