Israeli-based Airobotics, the leader in fully automated drone solutions, has just won another award. The company – a media favorite – has been named one of the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Companies to Watch in 2018. For the company that has taken home an Edison Award, Frost & Sullivan’s New Product Award, Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” honor and has been featured in countless publications -including this one – the latest hype is nothing new. But Airobotics and their automated solution have moved well beyond the stage of cool new idea. The Airobotics solution is now being implemented across the globe, proving the case for pilotless missions and paving the way for new innovations.
For anyone who hasn’t seen their booth at a drone show, “Airobotics has developed a pilotless drone solution, the first of its kind in the global market,” says the company. The drone flies from and returns to the docking station, able to perform pre-programmed flights without the need for a pilot. Airobotics was the first company in the world to get authorization to fly pilotless missions – they developed in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel for 2 years to get it.
It’s an investment that has paid off. Last month, the company announced participation in a billion-dollar port construction project in Israel. Now, the company has expanded into Australia, Chile, New Caledonia, and the U.S. Chile and New Caledonia may sound like unusual places to set up operations: but mining is a major vertical for Airobotics. Also in May, the company announced a new distribution deal with a mining engineering firm.
“Closed mines have to be operational for 20 years after they have been closed,” explains Efrat Fenigson, Airobotics’ VP of Marketing. “It is an environmental regulation – but there are very few people on a closed site. The mines need to be monitored and inspected to reduce risk, increase operational efficiencies, and detect malfunctions when they happen.”
These sites are often at remote locations, also, making them difficult and time consuming for staff to reach. That’s the perfect scenario for an automated drone mission, able to inspect the entire site regularly and thoroughly, sending data back to a control base and requiring minimal staffing.
As Airobotics have developed their drone solution, sensors have also evolved. “LiDAR is a game changer, because it delivers a 3D model so much faster than with photogrammetry,” says Fenigson. “The size has shrunk, the range is amazing, and the cost has gone down.”
That means a great deliverable – something major industries of all kinds can appreciate. “They now understand the value of getting a daily model of their operations – they can identify what has changed, or annotate on top of the model,” says Fenigson. “It’s a great way to exchange information when there is a shift change.”
While mining and construction are among the first verticals, Airobotics has a robust pipeline that includes energy and security. They are working on smart city projects and innovate new delivery applications. With over $70 million in funding to date, and a recognizable name, the company can afford to go after large industry willing to use innovative tools for a significant ROI.
“Our strategy is to work with companies that are big enough to be able to prove the case on one site, and then have it scale into others” Fenigson says. It’s a strategy that’s been successful – and with over 30,000 automated flights and a few big name customers to their credit, that use case is getting easier and easier to prove. Fully automated, pilotless drones have moved past the prototype, innovative product award stage and are now fully engaged in industry adoption.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.