The Danvers, Mass.-based drone company will focus on machine learning-powered data analysis
After eleven years on the market, local drone company CyPhy Works is rebranding as Aria Insights to make it clear that its aerial robots can now do more than fly for days with no supervision—they can also transform the aerial data they collect into “actionable insights” for customers.
Starting Tuesday, the company is getting a new name and a new direction for the business, but CEO Lance Vanden Brook and the location of its office in Danvers, Mass. will remain as before.
In management, one of most recent shifts at CyPhy Works happened in late 2017, when founder Helen Greiner, the robotics visionary who also co-founded Roomba maker iRobot, left the company to work for the U.S. Army. Greiner is still a shareholder in the newly-rebranded Aria.
Since late 2008, CyPhy Works has been addressing the technical challenges of persistent flight, meaning that its drones could fly for six to twelve days as well as collect data on the environment they were surveying. But clients wanted more than data gathering—they wanted analysis and clear answers.
“Our customers [don’t] want to look at 16 hours of video, they want to look at the 30 minutes that are relevant to [their] business,” Vanden Brook said.
Moving forward, a key part of Aria Insights will be turning unmanned vehicles into “intelligent partners” for the operator— a transformation that requires drones to go beyond just staying in the air and collecting the data.
“It goes into how you dynamically adapt to the environment, how do you process the data you’ve collected, how do you ultimately turn that into actionable information,” Laura Major, CTO of Aria Insights, said. Before joining CyPhy in the fall of 2017, Major led a Draper Labs division focusing on integrating human and machine intelligence.
Instead of launching a new unit within CyPhy Works, Vanden Brook argued that a complete rebranding was necessary because the new focus called for “a fairly significant shift” from the past, not to mention additional expertise.
At 35 employees today, Aria is planning to grow its team by adding software engineers but also salespeople.
The company will continue to serve CyPhy Works customers, which range from the Dept. of Defense and other government agencies to oil and gas firms and telecom companies. Total funding for the combined entity CyPhy-Aria is just under $38 million.
Over the next couple of months, the company will be launching a new product that will expand its customer base to include the petrol-chemical and power-generation industries.
“Our team members recognize this is sort of the next step in the evolution of the company,” Vanden Brook concluded.