A Lawrence-based firm that designs sensors and flight controllers to help drones fly more safely recently snagged an international award for its tech.
Founded in 2015, Aerotenna won first prize at the Unmanned Traffic Management Preliminary Drone Sense & Avoid technology competition, earning it $12,000 and valuable exposure to industry experts.
Aerotenna CEO Dr. Zongbo Wang said that the win establishes his company as the leading company in providing “sense-and-avoid” technology to commercial drone market. Sense-and-avoid refers to tech that enables airborne collision and obstacle avoidance.
“This is one of the most important pieces of technology in enabling mass application of drones,” said Wang, who previously was a research professor at the University of Kansas. “Advancements in drone sensing and processing technologies are making autonomous drones a reality and open competitions such as the UTM Drone Sense & Avoid competition are great venues to show the public just how smart drones have become.”
To win the contest, Aerotenna installed its flight radar and controller on a drone that successfully completed two collision-free rounds in an obstacle course in the fastest time. Hundreds of attendees watched Areotenna’s tech at work as the drone navigated a replica of environments that drones would face in the real world, including a bridge, glass obstacle, mock power line and a moving obstacle.
The competition was part of a larger unmanned aircraft convention in Syracuse, N.Y., that included aerial tech experts from around the world, including the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA. It also hosted professionals from global tech firms like Google, Intel and Amazon.
The company now has professional and commercial drone maker clients in Switzerland, China, Singapore and the United States. Aerotenna’s technology, however, isn’t limited to drones and includes applications for boats and cars. The company is located in the Lawrence-based Bioscience & Technology Business Center.
Check out Aerotenna’s tech in action with the video below.