The UAV space is still a bit like the Wild West. A huge number of questions still hangs over any organization that wants to institute a UAV program–What hardware do we pick? What software do we pick? How do we make everything work together? The variety of choices is wonderful, but the lack of standardization across manufacturers can lead to interoperability problems. What if I need a rotocopter from this company for bridge inspections, but a fixed wing from another company for aerial mapping? Do I need to buy different software for each?
Airware’s new OS should go a long way toward simplifying things.
It’s called the Aerial Information Platform (AIP) and they describe it as enabling “flexible integration of a wide variety of compatible aircraft and an ecosystem of third-party sensors, cameras, software apps, and data analysis tools.” In other words, Airware’s AIP will make your various hardware and software work together as if they were designed that way.
As quoted in The Verge, CEO and founder Jonathan Downey said that “the idea [behind Airware]was that we would support a wide variety of vehicles required to address the myriad of different applications for which drones will be a key part of the solution.”
For now, the AIP includes three parts: the Flight Core, which comprises the hardware box you attach to your aircraft as well as the autonomous flight software; the Ground Control Station Software, “for aircraft flight planning, control, and monitoring; and Configuration Manager, which allows you configure all the disparate pieces of hardware and software in your fleet so that they work together properly.
The company’s plans for the next few months include Airware Cloud, which will allow you to plan and manage your fleet at a greater scale, manage approvals, meet compliance requirements, analyze data, and share information across the enterprise.
By the summer, the company plans to release the Airware App Core, which will enable additional customization of the hardware and software in your UAV fleet. It will allow the creation of apps that tap into virtually any part of Airware’s software, as well as a way to make more hardware compatible with the AIP operating system. This includes LiDAR, multispectral cameras, thermal sensors, and more.
The AIP is an OS in the loose sense of the term–not software for operating hardware, but a combination of hardware and software that unifies all the parts of your UAV fleet, whatever they may be.
Enticingly, Airware also recently announced funding from Intel Capital, the investment portion of chip manufacturer Intel. The company’s interest in the UAV space is well known, as it has been involved in the development of one of the earliest commercially viable sense-and-avoid systems for UAV use, all resulting from its development of smaller and less expensive sensors for UAV use.