US-based drone manufacturer Aria Insights, formerly CyPhy Works, has closed its doors for good. Former CEO Lance Vanden Brook confirmed the news, answering DRONELIFE’s request with a brief statement: “Aria Insights has ceased operations effective March 21, 2019.”
It’s a short epitaph to a good company, and unfortunate evidence that consolidation in the drone sector – particularly in drone manufacturing – continues.
CyPhy works had a great origin story. CyPhy Works was founded in 2008 by engineering icon Helen Greiner, who also acted as CTO. Greiner was also a founder of iRobot: makers of the original automated vacuum cleaner for home use, the Roomba. With CyPhy Works’ Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications platform – PARC™ – it seemed that the company had hit on another ground-breaking product offering. The PARC was among the first widely used tethered drones, giving the weather-resistant aircraft a flight endurance that could be measured in days, rather than hours.
The uses of the PARC were many. “It’s a surprisingly efficient and effective solution for keeping a drone in one place,” Greiner told DRONELIFE in 2017. “We see growth in traffic management, oil and gas, asset management, hazardous incident response… anywhere you might need an eye in the sky.”
That “eye in the sky” was a powerful tool. High powered optical allowed customers to zoom in on whatever happened on the ground, making the system desirable for many types of public safety and security events in addition to industrial uses. Here in Boston – CyPhy Works’ home territory – the PARC was used to secure major events, including the Boston Marathon and the annual July 4th city concert.
But customers in the military and security arenas were apparently not sufficient to make hardware manufacturing feasible. In January of 2019, the company relaunched as Aria Insights, focused on drone data rather than drones.
At that time, Aria CEO Lance Vanden Brook explained:
“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. 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 a hardware provider, Aria is now a full-service solution that not only meets customers’ aerial needs, but also processes analytics that enable insightful decision making.”
Unfortunately, the new company was unable to get off the ground, finding themselves in the same position as many new – and older – drone companies. It’s a tough industry, and as commercial demand and regulations are slow to catch up with the building supply of drone solutions, consolidation in the industry is inevitable.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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