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Ann Arbor Startup Plans Autonomous Flying Robots


“It’s really not about the prize money, it’s just a small incentive,” Ellis said.

SkySpecs was one of 20 teams from 10 Michigan universities that made it to the challenge’s semifinals.

“It’s a real business that can be in the marketplace soon and that fits our criteria of renewable energy and energy saving,” said Norm Rapino, the challenge’s co-director. “They had a cohesive group of people who worked together well and were multidisciplinary. I believe the judges thought this was a venture that was poised for success.”

Although only recently founded, the company has raised $100,000 from private investors and business competitions like the clean energy challenge.

Ellis said production hasn’t started yet and will be small-scale for the first few years.

“We have to prove there is a market segment, paying customers, and a solution that fits their problems,” he said. “…Our target is to be selling 600 units a year by 2017.”

The robot the company is developing will be significantly different from the one the U-M team designed.

“The student team’s vehicle was built for a very particular application,” he said. “We are designing for commercial and industrial applications.”

Ellis estimated the production model will weigh around 11 pounds and cost about $50,000, due largely to its various expensive sensors.

“The vehicle is incorporated with cameras, ultrasonic sensors, thermal sensors,” he said.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Apr 1st, 2013 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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