KEF Robotics awarded $1.5M from US Army for R&D

KEF Robotics, a drone firm based in Pittsburgh, was awarded $1.5 million by the Army for research and development purposes.

KEF Robotics, an aerial autonomous drone developer, located in Larimer, recently announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Applications Laboratory of the United States Army for the sum of $1.5 million further to support the development of the startup’s technology.

Since the firm didn’t officially begin operations until December of 2018, this is the single biggest contract win they’ve received.

KEF Robotics

KEF said that it would be better enabled by the money to build out the computer vision algorithms that it requires to have its tethered drones fly autonomously in an urban area and under day or night circumstances.

The company added that such a breakthrough would speed up its efforts to construct a vision-based autonomous flying system that can be installed on any aircraft, even those that operate in regions that do not have access to GPS signals.

“Our platform-agnostic, attachable approach to aerial autonomy positions us well to provide safe tethered flight in dynamic and complex environments,” KEF Robotics Co-Founder, Eric Amoroso said in a statement. “The tethered system allows us to tightly couple the visual sensing on the ground vehicle and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), from which our system uses both machine learning and stereo vision techniques to probabilistically map difficult hazards like power lines and tree branches.”

The tethered method of handling drones that KEF employs entails anchoring power and data cables to the ground and attaching the aerial systems to those cables. According to the company that developed this technology, this enables their drones to fly “nearly indefinitely without recharging, providing a local, continuous overwatch capability to ground assets.”

KEF also intends to make use of the cash to investigate several potential means by which these tethered ground bases may become more mobile. Specifically, the organization is considering the prospect of having these bases linked to a moving vehicle rather than a fixed location.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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