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A Q&A with Josh Reidy, CEO at Airtonomy
Company HQ: Headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota
Team Size: 25 – 30 employees
Focus: Drone Data Management
Tell us about your company:
Airtonomy enables its customers to collect data uniformly using autonomous vehicles, in particular drones. We do that by making complex flight possible with push the button. In doing do so it is a matter of hours to train a Part 107 certified individual, such as a wind technician or a security guard or a power lineman to operate drones safely and also operate them consistently. Meaning, that regardless of who operates the drone, the outcome, the sensor data is highly uniform. By doing that on the front end, not only do we allow anyone to be able to capture the information, we also enable that data to be processed automatically using machine learning. By putting those two pieces together, there is an end-to-end workflow that is literally push button easy, fully automated that generates a large volume of data which is in turn actionable intelligence for an organization.
When and how did Airtonomy start?
I quit my day job in 2018 to begin building this company and we’ve been going strong every since. We were fortunate enough to be the first technology startup funded by Microsoft’s TechSpark program. I was fortunate enough to meet their leadership team and not only was their support instrumental but it gave me inspiration to keep going after leaving my day job and seeing this reality come true.
Where did the idea for your startup come from?
My co-founder and I all worked at the University of North Dakota in various capacities. One co-founder was a faculty member in computer science, another co-founder was chair of the aviation department and I was the University’s Chief Information Officer and oversaw research computing. The three of us have various skill-sets with a common focus and we worked together on a prior project so this was natural for us to go down this pathway. We were awarded a grant called The UAS Data Lifecycle as part of the University of North Dakota regional data hub which conceptually morphed into what Airtonomy is today.
Who is your ideal customer?
We work predominately with utilities, starting with publicly traded and also working with cooperatives for the more rural areas. We also work with energy companies and then we have some technology partners that have assisted us, such as Microsoft and Excel Energy, a regional energy company that we’ve worked with. Finding those types of partners, like National Grid would be amazing.
What can we expect from your company in the near future?
We believe there is a point at which drones and autonomous vehicles can really take off and scale, but we also believe the industry hasn’t found that point yet. We feel like if we haven’t found that point yet, we’ve found something very close to that, where the next contracts we’ll be signing are to take our methodology that is in practice with one application such as wind turbine inspections or oil tank inspections, customers who have seen the process and scalability, repeatability, adaptability, will look to expand that across their enterprise. Meaning there is a common software framework for all autonomous vehicle operations. What would be considered success is to see large energy and utility companies that have adopted Airtonomy moving across their enterprise and are connecting various drone hardware, sensor hardware and various analysis routines for literally any purpose that you can imagine.
Why are you excited about GENIUS NY?
We are very proud of where we are from and what we’ve accomplished, but we also realize that there is a next step. We feel like GENIUS NY and this area constitutes that next step to provide great access to capital, greater access to people, not only job candidates but expertise that can help us become a better company and serve our customers better. If we want to operate on the national and international stage, this is the type of next step we need.
What are you most looking forward to while staying in Syracuse?
We look forward to branching out into the community. We have a trip planned to the New York UAS Test Site which we are looking forward to and learning more about the role of Central New York in unmanned aircraft systems.
What will you do with the one million grand prize?
The easiest answer to that is to focus on our growth and our customers and acquiring talent. We are at a point that for us to grow, we have to add employees, predominantly computer scientist, software developers and roboticist.
Check out Aironomy’s career page for job opportunities.