Each year, the real unsung highlight of re:Mars is the dozen or so startups and researchers who showcase their products on the show floor. There are always a couple of cool projects that have somehow managed to escape our attention. Airrow from Los Angeles popped up with a smart product suggestion.
A startup is building a device designed to automatically remove and replace batteries and payloads for drones. It works similar to a CNC machine or 3D printer with a gantry that moves along the X and Y axes to carry the battery from the charger to the drone and back.
Currently, this process is manual, requiring replacement and human replacement. This is only slightly inconvenient one-on-one, but can become a major problem when scaling, as is the case, say, with drone food delivery programs.
The system is still at a very early stage. At the event, the team demonstrated battery replacement and is currently working on extending the process to payloads. The exchange currently takes a full two minutes, but Airrow is working on cutting it down to around 30 seconds. One case at a time, for a small team that currently consists of five employees. Headcount expansion is an important part of the company’s plans as it looks to boost its next round by adding to the $350,000 pre-seed contributions it has raised so far.
Delivery applications aside, military use is a key potential customer here. After all, they need drones and have big pockets when it comes to investing in technology solutions. Founder and CEO Menachem Fehler told me that so far the company has been in talks with the SEALs about possible deployments that could help keep the drones in the air at all times. Arrow also spoke to numerous law enforcement organizations.
The solution is not cheap. The startup is currently considering a price range of $80,000 to $100,000 for a kit that also includes the drone.
“At this stage, we are still looking for the best approach, but we want to provide an end-to-end solution,” Fehler tells TechCrunch. Although the company will also customize the system to work with different drones according to the specific needs of the client.
Credit: techcrunch.com /