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uAvionix acquires traffic avoidance tech creator

Iris Automation CEO, a GA pilot, takes helm of uAvionix

uAvionix, which began as a drone technology producer and later established a foothold in general aviation with low-cost ADS-B solutions, has acquired Iris Automation, another drone-related firm with GA ambition. The deal with Iris, makers of computer vision airspace awareness products, also provided uAvionix with a new CEO: commercial pilot and CFI Jon Damush.

The Casia computer vision system detects aircraft regardless of radio telemetry. Image courtesy of uAvionix.

The acquisition brings uAvionix, based in Montana, squarely into the middle of the FAA and industry effort to enable drone package delivery (and other operations beyond visual line of sight, or BVLOS) and advanced air mobility, making systems that are key to the success of both. Best known to GA pilots for developing and securing FAA approval for various low-cost ADS-B transmitters that can replace existing aircraft lights for easy retrofit, uAvionix bought AeroVonics in 2019, expanding its footprint in GA to include electronic instruments.

Iris Automation, meanwhile, developed Casia, a computer vision aircraft detection system that enables uncrewed aircraft to automatically detect and maneuver to avoid other aircraft. The ground-based version (Casia G) does the same job, monitoring airspace from one or more fixed locations. Police in Pearland, Texas, used Casia G airspace surveillance to win FAA approval for a drones-as-first-responders program that conducts BVLOS flights without human visual observers, the first such effort authorized by the FAA, in March.

Jon Damush, a general aviation pilot, was named CEO of Iris Automation in 2020, and became CEO of uAvionix in October following the purchase of Iris Automation by uAvionix. Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

Damush told AOPA in 2020 that Iris Automation has a singular focus, "to make flying safer, period." He envisioned many applications for computer vision on traditional aircraft, from traffic alerting to passenger identification, or GPS-denied navigation.

In an October 24 news release, uAvionix founder and Chief Technology Officer Paul Beard continued that theme: “The combination of Iris Automation’s and uAvionix’s capabilities provides for a multi-layered-safety architecture that supports integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. Through our collective efforts, we are solving the two biggest technical challenges to UAS integration: Command and Control and Detect and Avoid. Solving these problems builds safer airspace for all users.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: ADS-B, Automation, Avionics

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