What are your biggest goals in the field of unmanned systems over the next few years?
There are currently multi-billion dollar industrial market segments in agriculture, inspection and mining which are under-exploited because unmanned vehicles simply cannot be trusted to operate on their own. These vehicles are currently blind to the world and just follow GPS waypoints. Our goal is for our low-cost, reliable collision avoidance system to become a trusted and necessary component of our industry partners' systems enabling us to pave the way for routine Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight operations in airspace throughout the world.
Where do you see the industry going in the next decade?
The commercial UAV industry has been limited due to strict Beyond Visual Line of Flight (BVLOS) regulations. The limiting factor has been the lack of reliable collision avoidance technology that is necessary for gaining the trust of airspace regulators. Currently, the industrial drone industry is worth USD $2 billion but is expected to grow to USD $23 billion by 2020. It is an industry-wide belief that the industrial drone market cannot grow unless unmanned systems become truly autonomous and are allowed to fly BVLOS flights. This requires a safe, reliable, and robust collision avoidance system – exactly what Iris is building. Iris Automation understands that there is massive potential for industrial drones to be used in powerline/pipeline inspection, mining exploration, agriculture and even more extraordinary applications like package delivery, and we are committed to helping the industry realize that potential.
What role do you see your organization playing in that future?
We see ourselves providing the relief to the artificial constraint holding back the industry through our technology. Iris Automation’s collision avoidance system is based on cutting edge computer vision and deep learning technology, doing real-time 3D environmental reconstruction and dynamic tracking of moving objects at over 500m range. We believe that our system is the right approach to enabling safe UAS integration into the national airspace to serve a variety of industrial markets.
What do you see as major challenges to the unmanned systems industry?
We see the lack of trust between drone manufacturers and operators, and airspace regulators as the largest challenge facing the unmanned systems industry today. Without reliable safety systems and extensive flight heritage, regulators are understandably hesitant to integrate UAS into the national airspace, which is artificially constraining the potential of a multi-billion dollar industry.
What makes AUVSI membership attractive to your organization?
Membership in the AUVSI provides us up-to-date information on our industry, and facilitates connections to potential collaborators and like-minded organizations who are also working to improve UAS technology for the betterment of all.