Iris Automation Raises $1.5 Million to Advance Future of Autonomous Industrial Drones

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Iris Automation, a recent graduate of the Y­Combinator startup accelerator program, this week announced that it has raised $1.5 million to commercialize a “Sense and Avoid” system that will “unlock the industrial drone industry” by allowing the drones to fly autonomously.

The system provides real­-time situational awareness using computer vision and deep learning, allowing the drones to avoid collision in­flight. Iris Automation has also launched its early adopter program for selected companies.

Alexander Harmsen, CEO of Iris Automation, says his startup will use this investment to accelerate product development, scale the early adopters program, and make completely autonomous drone operation a reality.

“We are delighted to have raised this round from leading investors in the drone space,” Harmsen said.

The Iris system uses a camera and computer vision algorithms to track moving objects  to avoid collisions and create an accurate 3D reconstruction of the world in real­-time as the drone flies without any previous knowledge of the environment.

“With a range of over 1,500 feet, our system is 50 times more powerful than the ‘bumper solutions’ that some current drone companies are using today with a mere 30-foot 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 Iris, noted.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s new UAV rules (commonly referred to as Part 107) includes a waiver process for  Beyond Visual Line Of Sight 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.

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