In 2014, Mihail Pivtoraiko and Siddhart Sanan founded the company Aptonomy in San Jose, CA. Aptonomy provides clients with a drone based security system. According to their website, “Aptonomy’s self-flying security drones are an indispensable tool for the modern wide-area security operation.” Their drones are basically full time aerial security guards.
Both Pivtoraiko and Sanan received doctorates from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the top technology schools in the country. Before founding Aptonomy they both had successful carers independently. Pivtoraiko worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin and Intel. Sanan’s research on human-robot safety and soft robotics became the inspiration behind the robot Baymax in Disney’s Big Hero 6. With funding from investors like Y Combinator, BootstrapLabs, Silicon Valley Data Capital, and more, Aptonomy has been pushing the boundaries in drone securities.
The drone they use is from the drone masters at DJI, the Spreading Wings S1000. The S1000 is an octocopter that is portable and easy to use with retractable landing gear. It is safe and has superior stability and a low gimbal mounting position. Aptonomy then added their own hardware to the drone like loudspeakers, a second computer to power both night and day vision cameras, a spot light, and their own custom controller. But what really sets Aptonomy’s version of the S1000 apart is the artificial intelligence and navigation programs they developed for it.
Pivtoraiko and Sanan point out that most commercial drones are used to take images from hundreds of feet in the air. Collecting thermal image data, topographical mapping data, or broad images. These drones can not fly low, or safely maneuver around complex environments. Because of the AI and navigation systems used by Aptonomy this is not an issue. Their drones are able to fly low enough to see a person’s face, like how a human security guard would do. They are able to safely and quickly navigate around obstacles like cell towers, pipe lines, and people. It can essentially do the job that a human security guard would do, but at a quicker, safer, and more reliable rate.
The drones are uploaded with a map of the area to be patrolled. With a click of a button a guard can allow the drone to know what area of the map needs to be monitored. The drone then autonomously flies to that area relaying a real time video of what it sees. The drone can also be set to respond to motion detectors, shine a spotlight on an intruder, or allow the guard who could be hundreds of miles away to communicate with an intruder through the loud speakers on the drone. Even more amazing is that the AI with this drone allows it to recognize when it’s battery is running low and return to a charging station on it’s own.
Aptonomy feels this type of a security system could greatly benefit businesses that have a vast infrastructure system like chemical plants or even a prison. Their website states, “Aptonomy’s aerial security system enables guards to dispatch self-flying drones with a simple tap on their mobile app. The drone’s advanced Artificial Intelligence flies the programed route, identifies anomalies and notifies all stakeholders.” It is a way of keeping things secure without having to put human guards at risk.