CyPhy Works Rebrands to Focus on AI-Based Drone Analytics

Source: CyPhy Works/Aria Insights

January 15, 2019      

CyPhy Works, which provides persistent tethered drone deployments to military, security, and the oil & gas industry, today relaunched the company under the name Aria Insights. The rebranded company plans to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning software into its drones, providing customers with “intelligent, autonomous drones that both collect and analyze data to create actionable insights for users.”

The Danvers, Mass.-based company said the decision to rename the company came from an increasing understanding about companies asking for additional analytics from the data that the drones were collecting, as well as a shift from the customer’s base, which was focused on security and military applications initially. Originally founded in 2008 as The Droid Works Inc., CyPhy Works’ founders included Helen Greiner, an MIT graduate and one of the co-founders of iRobot.

“After 10 years of innovating and redefining drone technology, the team at CyPhy saw the limitations facing the industry – namely the complications and risks of retrieving and analyzing data,” said Lance Vanden Brook, CEO of Aria Insights. “A number of our partners were collecting and housing massive amounts of information with our drones, but there was no service in the industry to quickly and efficiently turn that data into actionable insights.” Moving beyond just providing hardware, Aria can now offer services for aerial drones as well as process the analytics for customers.

“Most clients don’t want to look at 12 to 16 hours of video, whether they’re doing inspections, surveys, or those types of things,” said Vanden Brook. “Our view is that with AI, we should be able to continue our mission of building autonomous systems, but to build a lot more smarts into the systems we’re delivering.”

Finding key items in hours of video

While many military and security companies have their own software that can offer those insights, customers in commercial markets, including the oil & gas industry and others, were looking for additional help, he added. “They came to us and said, ‘It would be great if we didn’t have to look at hours of video, if the drone could actually just tell us the pieces of information that are important or relevant to the business, if it could signal to us that these are the 30 minutes of video we should be looking at out of the 20 hours.’ ”

CyPhy’s flagship offering, the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications Platform (PARC), will continue to be available from the rebranded company. In addition, the company said it plans to launch new technology later this year to help its commercial partners and “ensure greater safety of people everywhere.”

The company said its new name comes from a flock of canaries, “who used to work to keep coal miners safe from deadly gases,” Aria said. “Smarter data collection and machine learning enable decision makers to quickly and efficiently address a problem or execute a mission, while ensuring human lives are not put at risk.”

Through the company’s analytics, customers no longer need to spend hours capturing and watching video – instead, AI-based ‘robots’ will identify areas of interest, sending alerts when new information is detected, and “ultimately connect all of the data to a digital 3D map.”

The company’s drones can perform fully autonomous missions to aid in the maintenance of confined spaces, such as oil tankers or pipelines, identifying areas that need repair without sending humans into potentially dangerous situations. The drones can also monitor the development of a natural disaster area and alert first responders of increased action in a certain area, as well as work with public safety or event organizers when parts of a crowd may need more supervision, the company said.

Laura Major, the CTO of Aria Insights, said the company has been steadily building up its AI and machine learning team to provide the new data capabilities. One goal for the company, Major said, is “how do you provide those tools to those people so they can move very quickly without having to be experts in AI themselves. That transformation has been under way over the last year, now we’re realizing that it has a big impact on the market, so we’re doubling down on that.”