Member Spotlight: ANRA Technologies Organizes a Crowded Drone Airspace
ANRA Technologies, a startup based in Virginia, is working on a traffic management solution for drones with NASA as one of the collaborators.
The official name of the program is Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management, better known as UTM. Put more simply, NASA wants to help organize low-level airspace as drones become more prevalent.
Amit Ganjoo founded ANRA Technologies after he spent time working for Ericsson and the Defense Department as a contractor. After 18 years of working in the aviation and communication industries, Ganjoo said he hit a point where he wanted to start his own company.
ANRA, which recently received its first round of external funding, does not build drones, the company is working on a system that performs UAS traffic management, UAS command and control, and sensor data dissemination. It executes this with four products — a mesh module, cellular module, ground control station and cloud control station.
Ganjoo was careful not to share too many details about his solution as he is continuing to work on getting the solution ready for formal launch in Q2 of 2016.
Drone traffic management is a developing issue in the U.S. with multiple government agencies trying to find new methods. Without a human airborne in the cockpit, air traffic management becomes more complicated and potentially dangerous.
Ganjoo understands the risks as a licensed pilot himself and has seen first hand how the skies have gotten more congested. In addition to traffic management, the solution also provides secure network functionality line of sight and beyond the horizon for the UAVs.
He first encountered TandemNSI last March after entering in our Drone PitchNSI event. He showed off how he could fly a drone hovering over San Francisco from his home in Virginia using LTE and WiMax. The crowd loved it and his company won the Audience Choice Award for Coolest Technology.
Ganjoo said the biggest surprise he’s had since becoming an entrepreneur is the excited reception he’s received for his prototypes. “We didn’t expect people to get so excited about it,” Ganjoo said in an interview this week.
AccelerateDC has accepted ANRA Technologies into their program where Ganjoo said he’s really benefited from working with their advisers on his business plan. He first got in contract with AccelerateDC after meeting one of their former mentors at the hangar where Ganjoo keeps his plane.
“The group is great. I have great advisors and none of these guys get compensated for doing this. They are taking their time and helping you,” Ganjoo said. “They have been extremely beneficial from a business plan and investor briefing point of view.”
Beyond NASA and commercial applications, Ganjoo said he sees a future for his company working with government agencies. He said he hopes to work with intelligence agencies as well as ones that deal with disaster relief like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
— Michael Hoffman can be reached at email@example.com