Airial Robotics is a European company that is also part of the Genius New York Program. They have patented technology which extends the limits of commercial drone applications. Airial Robotics is most known for their hybrid drive system technology, Gyrotrak, which combines the best of Gyrocopter and Helicopter.
What are the top three challenges your technology addresses?
Number one, safety. Our system is built to fly beyond vision line of sight. So the pilot does not see overpopulated areas like downtown Manhattan to deliver critical goods in order to rescue lives. That’s the mission. Aircraft certification as part of our safety architecture has been a core principle of our company from the day we selected the first screw to be used on our system.
Number two is performance. As an example, if you had to map the city of Syracuse or Rochester, you would take a quadcopter like a Matrice 300 from DGI. It would take you a day to do that because your mission is 30 minutes. You need to fly too. And from the measuring point, you need to most likely do 50 battery changes in order to cover the area. We can do the same job, most likely one and a half hours or two hours. If you take you a fixed wing V2 L that is very common–the Trinity F nine from quantum systems. They have a payload capacity of 1.7 kilos which means you can fly a tiny camera. However, if you want to create a high precision map, you need to fly a high-end laser scanner that has a weight of at least 4.5 kilos which is able to detect 8 million data points per second. This would require payload capacity. Our system can integrate it. We can fly one and a half hours with this heavy payload over every terrain.
The third is all weather capability. Ask yourself how many days in the year do you have the wind speed less than 20 miles an hour.? That is the threshold for a fixed wing V2 L. Because you cannot fly in high wind with most systems. We, however, can fly with a wind force of 8. We can extend the operational time frame from 240 days to 340 day. Our services are mission critical: medical devices, tissues, blood.
How do you deal with safety and what are your safety precautions in your technology?
A fundamental design requirement from the beginning was to find an aerodynamic principle and a structure that would allow us to do emergency procedures without a third party system. The current reliability of a parachute system based on explosives is 90%.
What happens with that drone that falls out of the sky is one of the 10% where the parachute is not working. Our design principles are non-negotiable. We need a system that has what we call natural sategy architecture. Whenever you have a risk you develop a redundant system. As an example from experience as a pilot I flew a Tornado jet that had a had a fly by wire system, and this fly by a wire system was triple redundant. In a drone you can do redundancy. And that is the big difference in our system. We have a natural redundancy in aerodynamics because we have a stage where the aircraft is a helicopter, and we have a stage where it’s a GYROTrack in an emergency case. These two stages are exchangeable. So if there is catastrophic failure in helicopter mode, the system can transfer it into gyro mode to fly towards safety.
Given you have already built several successful businesses, what are some best practices?
The first fundamental principle is to build the product first. We had an idea and didn’t talk to anyone about it on the outside until we could prove our concept to ourselves and make it work. The other principle is that you have to start with talent first in the critical areas. Product first supported by talent. And then we go out and try to convince customers, and tell them all the use cases. Our biggest problem on the path to growth is not the talent, and it’s not the capability of the management to scale up because we have done that many times. Our main problem is to develop a coherent team that tells the truth to the others who love the product, who love the company and who love the market. We need fierce honesty to grow to scale and that takes a great deal of nurturing culture. We are a distributed team spread across Hungary, UK, Germany and the United States. Working together on fundamental human values is where we are focusing our leadership.