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Start-up of the Week: Auterion & software-defined future of UAV industry

A very good example of Auterion’s operational versatility is Freefly Astro, which is a connected drone for enterprise workflows

In today’s episode of the “Start-up of the Week,” International Finance will talk about Auterion, which has emerged as the drone software platform built for enterprises, to make large-scale drone operations simple, safe and fully integrated in workflows.

With offices in California and Switzerland, the venture, as of April 2024, has raised USD 25 million in venture-backed funding from investors such as Lakestar, Mosaic Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Tectonic Ventures, while having a rich clientele including General Electric (GE) Aviation, Quantum Systems, Impossible Aerospace, and the United States Department of Defence.

Unifying A Workforce Of Autonomous Robots

Auterion’s drone software is a different breed altogether, as it streamlines operations, elevates integration, and maximises automation for its clients, all on a single digital platform, while increasing safety, efficiency and sustainability with the operating system for autonomous robots.

Auterion’s cutting-edge operating system for autonomous computing is empowering a diverse range of autonomous robots to perform high-risk to mundane tasks, deliver goods, and aid in life-saving missions. Staying true to its operational versatility, the drone software start-up is powering a range of autonomous vehicles, including multirotors, fixed-wing, VTOLs, and ground vehicles.

A very good example of Auterion’s operational versatility is “Freefly Astro,” which is a connected drone for enterprise workflows. The product is a result of the collaboration between Auterion and its industry peer Freefly. Astro is a ruggedised drone, which enables enterprise workflows through standardised user interfaces, automated data transmission and real-time 4G data connectivity. The lightweight drone is perfect for jobs like image mapping, delivering goods, carrying out infrastructure inspections and search & rescue operations.

Using Auterion’s expertise, a drone manufacturer can accelerate its go-to-market strategy by utilising tried-and-tested software and hardware for faster integration and production scale-up, apart from expanding the capabilities of an enterprise’s robotics fleet. The client venture can also streamline its enterprise-ready solutions like end-to-end workflows, delivering data to the cloud, and connecting with existing apps, all through Auterion’s help.

The start-up is also providing state-of-the-art drone payload tools like MAVLink and the Pixhawk Payload Bus. For its enterprise-grade operations, Auterion also offers a variety of enterprise-grade payload options like a full camera, an app for advanced drone training and mission planning, cloud connection for live video streams, real-time monitoring and over-the-air firmware updates via onboard LTE.

What Are The Key Products?

Let’s start with AuterionOS, which is the only vendor-independent operating system that runs onboard a fleet of interconnected robots. The onboard software platform consists of a flight controller and an operating system running on the mission computer. AuterionOS allows robots to perform advanced operations by enabling specific autonomous actions, ensuring safe mission execution, establishing communication with other software and hardware, and providing LTE connectivity to transfer data in real-time to the user and the cloud.

AuterionOS also allows the installation of apps, enabling features that are relevant to the client enterprise’s purposes, in order to enhance the latter’s operational experience. A very good example here is AuterionOS powering the drone fleet of its industry peer DroneUp which operates in the delivery hubs of Walmart, the largest American retailer, to provide 4 million US households with last-mile delivery.

AuterionOS helps its users to operate a variety of vehicles and payloads with the same experience and workflow, while bringing elements like APIs into the play, to expand the range of drone cameras, radios and payloads. AuterionOS, while running on multiple drone models and supporting different payloads, also enables a unified workforce of autonomous robots with the world’s leading operating system for autonomous computing. Here Auterion Suite comes into the play.

With every mission, data gets automatically transferred into the cloud-based Auterion Suite to provide real-time information captured by the robot while it’s still operating, without any manual intervention. All flight logs get automatically uploaded for every vehicle and every pilot, and log data gets analysed and made available to download as compliance reports.

Auterion Suite enables holistic and scalable fleet management by providing updated information on the vehicle health status, predictive maintenance actions and over-the-air software updates. Robots send operational data and live video automatically to the Suite, while they are still in the air. The Suite also enables end-to-end automated workflow, from the vehicle operating in the field, over the air to the cloud and into third-party applications to process the captured data.

Auterion Suite is a foolproof management solution for a client enterprise’s robotics programme and missions, by handling software updates, tracking vehicles for predictive maintenance and monitoring components to flag operational issues.

Next is Auterion Mission Control, which is the app to plan and execute autonomous missions for any Auterion-powered vehicle. With simple controls and intuitive views, the tool allows a seamless robotics mission planning and execution experience for the client enterprise, especially in terms of standardising operations and reducing training time and resources, apart from scaling up missions and saving execution time by planning from remote locations.

Finally, we have Skynode X, a fully integrated autopilot and mission computer for drones operating under the Auterion software platform. Compared to other drone autopilots, Skynode X transforms robotic vehicles from mere mobile cameras into connected autonomous systems.

Solutions Galore

By collaborating with the start-up, ventures can manage their diverse fleet of robotic vehicles in a single asset management system that handles all software updates, tracks every drone for predictive maintenance, and monitors component health. The business can also download compliance reports per pilot or vehicle data from the cloud, prepare drone missions with pre-flight planning checklists and check real-time traffic information.

From Auterion, drone manufacturers get tried-and-tested software and hardware for faster integration and production scale-up, apart from the ability to offer enterprise-ready robotics fleet with elements like end-to-end workflows, cloud-powered data delivering mechanism, and integration with existing apps, built on industry standards MAVLink and the Pixhawk Payload Bus.

For app developers, AuterionOS comes with payload integrations and on-board applications, so that the professionals become part of an ecosystem that reaches more users and has a bigger impact.

An app developer can integrate his/her services and payloads to work across the whole fleet of Auterion-powered systems. It covers mechanisms like flight controllers, onboard components and the ground station/robotics data workflow in the cloud.

Auterion In News

The start-up, as of April 2024, along with its partners like Freefly, Deltaquad, Lucid Bots, Spleenlab and Sony, is providing its drone software solutions across all the major industry verticals, from cargo and energy to infrastructure and agriculture. Auterion, through its partnerships with drone manufacturers, software developers and payload makers, is shaping the future of both the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) industry and the mainstream economy. The domain of robotics is heading towards the software-defined future and Auterion’s products give us a sneak peek of how things will look in the coming years.

In March 2024, Kraken Technology Group, a maritime technology leader specialising in the disruptive design and manufacturing of high-performance platforms, and Auterion announced a strategic partnership to exponentially develop autonomous capabilities in the high-performance littoral security boat sector. Auterion will develop and implement modular and low-cost autonomy software and UxV systems for Kraken’s K3 SCOUT and K4 MANTA uncrewed platforms.

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