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5 Startups Working on Drones

The drone industry is young, yet mighty. (In Paris, the only thing higher than drones right now are kids on their "study" abroad program.) And the DC region is becoming a hub for some of the pioneers. The local community has about 1,600 members. We talked to a few of the newest crop of companies at TandemNSI’s pitch competition last night in Arlington. 

1. Sentien Robotics


The companies at the pitch event were judged by government officials interested in working with startups focused on national security applications. Winners received $1k each. Sentien Robotics won the "Most Interesting National Security Application." CEO Brandon Borko developed software and hardware focused on swarm monitoring technology. (A swarm is multiple drones observing a target.) Farmers use swarms to monitor large crops. Sentien’s software handles the management of those drones and can tell them where to swarm. The three-person, Fredericksburg, VA-based company was launched over a year ago and plans to apply for federal grant funding.

2. TLP Systems


TLP Systems principal Travis Pinney tells us his 6-month-old startup, based in Arlington, is focused on modeling and simulation software and hardware that can detect drone signals. Possible applications include using the technology, equipped with optical and radio sensors, to detect the signal strength of cell towers.

3. Axon AI


Axon AI VP Hugh Brooks says the Arlington and Harrisonburg-based company has developed an autonomous asset coordination technology that controls swarms of drones. (Similar to Sentien Robotics.) DARPA has been researching the technology for the last 15 years, and it’s just now being commercialized. The company’s product is ready to deploy and it's now looking for customers and partners. 

4. Sudodrone


Sudodrone took home the "Most Interesting Commercial Opportunity" prize. Its hardware and software allows a drone to connect to the Internet while flying using cell networks. CTO Edward Kablaoui says the Columbia, MD-based startup’s technology probably won’t be ready until he's finished writing software to be able to digitally control the processor attached to the drone and provide real-time video and other data. Most drones are able to provide real-time info, but the range is limited since they’re using WiFi networks. This would allow for a range as far away as New York.

5. Anra Aviation


Anra Aviation developed technology that controls a UAV from anywhere using LTE and WiMAX. So the user could be sitting in New York and controlling a drone in San Francisco using a cellphone, says president Amit Ganjoo. Similar to Sudodrone, the two-person company’s technology can provide video surveillance in real time. The Chantilly-based company won’t officially launch until the fall, but it’s been managing proofs of concept on various Navy ships.