Event Summary: PitchNSI Boston – Drones, Robotics and Unmanned Systems

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Government reps from DARPA, Navy, Office of Naval Research and Department of Homeland Security take in the tech innovation

Government reps take in the tech innovation

On May 20th, TandemNSI held its first event outside of the Washington D.C. region. We took the show to Boston and held a PitchNSI event that was co-sponsored by MassChallenge, TechStars, Bolt, and Xconomy.

DARPA used the event to announce their Robotics Fast Track Program. DARPA’s expected outcome of this experimental program is to demonstrate the ability for robotics projects to be performed at an asymmetric advantage in time, cost, and contribution of the efforts in comparison to more traditional applied research areas.

The event attracted companies who focus on drones, robotics and unmanned vehicles. Out of the companies who applied, ten were chosen to pitch national defense agencies with the hope of educating, inspiring and finding a business opportunity.

We were impressed by the quality of the presentations and level of innovation and we are definitely looking forward to doing another event in Boston in the future. We are also working to identify the next to hold a PitchNSI event. Stay tuned!

Below is a summary of the companies that were chosen to pitch during the event.

Accion Systems

Accion Systems in an MIT spinout formed to commercialize novel propulsion systems for satellites. Using a new propellant and cutting edge manufacturing techniques, Accion’s ion engines can add maneuverability and lifetime to small satellites and can be scaled up to support large satellites up to 2000 kg. The team launched its first satellite today and is currently in production of its first batch of systems for commercial sale.

Bounce Imaging

Ravi Khanna of Energy Harvesters

Ravi Khanna of Energy Harvesters

Bounce Imaging makes low-cost, easy-to-use, throwable cameras and sensors that allow users to see what lies in a space without having to expose themselves to harm. The units take omnidirectional images every half second while in-flight, delivering these along with audio and sensor data to the user’s smartphone. Our unique image processing algorithm then instantly stitches these images into seamless panoramas in under 0.3 seconds, allowing users to see the space from a first-person perspective everywhere the unit has traveled in the room. Our goal is to provide first responders of all types the situational awareness they need to keep themselves and civilians safe while achieving their missions.

CoolChip Technologies

Our mission is to transform the electronics cooling industry. How? With fully integrated forced convection solutions powered by our CoolChip Kinetic Cooling Engine. Think about it… Over the last half-century, everything in computing has significantly evolved – everything but the fan-cooler. Thermal management is critical to product performance and longevity, yet fan-coolers remain antiquated and have not kept pace with modern electronics innovation. At CoolChip Technologies™, we’re addressing the challenge of heat removal from electronics with the introduction of Kinetic Cooling, a revolutionary technology that delivers up to 50% improvement in cooling and achieves a 2x smaller form factor at significantly lower noise levels for today’s high-density electronic world.

Ecovent

Ed Bard of Response Technologies and Sarah Haig of Silverside Detectors share a demo table

Ed Bard of Response Technologies and Sarah Haig of Silverside Detectors share a demo table

Ecovent created the world’s first intelligent home zoning system that delivers complete room-by-room climate control through easy-to-install, self-configuring sensors and vents. Ecovent lets homeowners use a mobile phone or computer to control their home’s temperature on a room-by-room basis. This is accomplished through an advanced system of vents and sensors that intelligently diagnoses the factors impacting room temperature. The homeowner simply sets the desired temperature for each room (including empty rooms) and Ecovent automatically does the rest.  Ecovent controls the thermostat and by wirelessly and automatically opening or closing vents in a room, Ecovent delivers the precise amount of conditioned air, bringing the room to the exact desired temperature.  The vents’ faceplates were designed to optimize airflow. By eliminating louvers found in traditional vents and using smooth sweeping surfaces, the vents allow more air to pass through. As a result, vents are virtually silent.

Empire Robotics

Empire Robotics is enabling the collaborative, agile future of robotic automation through innovation leadership. With our first product, the VERSABALL® Gripper, we are leading a new revolution of safe and repurposeable robotic grippers that are easy to use. Our simple versatile solutions help make robotic automation a financially viable option for many smaller and medium sized manufactures in the United States.

Energy Harvesters

Energy Harvesters is commercializing a personal electronics mobile power source. This off-the-grid device will charge Smartphone and portable electronic device batteries as you walk or directly power applications such as footwear heaters and GPS locators. The Walking Charger ™ is a device that will be incorporated within footwear for OEM branded products, serving: military, recreation, work boot and consumer end users. It will be configured to be swappable between footwear to serve additional global consumer market segments. The ability to Charge Mobile Electronic Batteries Anytime, Anywhere ™ becomes a reality with Energy Harvesters Walking Charger.

Metamagnetics

Metamagnetics Inc. is a small business specializing in the development and production of electronic devices based on magnetic materials that offer a competitive advantage for existing and next generation technology solutions in communications, radar, sensing, and protection of RF systems.

Neurala

Neurala makes deep learning software brains for robots that mimic the way the human brain works. Our bio-inspired approach differs from traditional approaches by using deep learning to build robot brains that continuously observe and adapt to their environment, much like humans do. Neurala uses massively parallel GPU processing to achieve what others have not. Neurala was awarded a patent for GPU-based systems designed to run artificial neural network models, a key to modern approaches for artificial intelligence.

Pyrolite Labs

Fire continues to be a major cause of materiel destruction and loss of life. Despite extensive research in this area, there have been no new methods for extinguishing and/or manipulating fire in almost 50 years. A new means for rapid and effective suppression of fires are needed. A radically new approach to both fire manipulation and suppression lies in the realization that flames are cold plasma consisting of fast moving negative electrons and slower positive ions. Since typical flames cannot exist without stable plasma, this provides an effective point of attack: control the flame to control the fire. Control means flame manipulation. The Fire Control and Containment Suppression System controls the flames of the fire directly; localizes and directs the flames’ heat away from people and combustible materials; and controls the shape of the flame so that corridors of escape can be created. We have created an electromagnetic way to control and contain the growth and spreading of flames to other combustible materials.

Response Technologies

Response Technologies is a New England based startup founded by two technical and experienced leaders with direct market experience. We have an outstanding patent pending additive manufacturing technology platform that allows us to eliminate seams in flexible vessels. Some examples of flexible vessels are: flexible fuel tanks, above ground storage tanks, car airbags, oil containment booms, biomedical devices, inflatable rafts and emergency evacuation slides for aircraft. By eliminating seams we create a more reliable, safer, more environmentally friendly, lower cost and 40% lighter product. All in, this market is over $30B and our technology will disrupt it. We have completed proof of concept and initial market validation with several of the market leaders. We are making our first prototypes now and expect them completed in June 2015.

Silverside Detectors

Silverside Detectors is developing large-area, low-cost neutron detectors for wide-area search and security for special nuclear material. Designed for discreet deployment in existing infrastructure (including both static locations such as jersey barriers, and mobile deployments such as municipal vehicles), the detectors can be networked to cover large geographic areas and high-volume traffic throughput, without compromising signal sensitivity. Silverside’s technology takes advantage of manufacturing best practices from the lithium battery and double-paned window industries, to achieve robust, scalable detectors that provide equal performance to the market standard (He-3 radiation portal monitor) at 1/10 the cost.

upLift Robotics

Drones flying above us is not a futuristic dream, but something we will see in our lifetimes. However, today’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs/Drones) can fly for only 20 minutes before requiring a 90 minute recharge. How can we power them to extend flight time and distance? Enter upLift Robotics–a network of connected stations which swap out, rather than charge, the universal batteries on UAVs. Our vision is to standardize and deploy a network of ‘gas stations’ for the growing drone economy.

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