First Self-flying Home Robot Launches on Kickstarter – Interview with Jeffrey Tseng

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Today, Aevena launched their Kickstarter campaign for Aire, a self-flying home robot. It is now available on Kickstarter starting at $699.

Aire is a flying robot designed from the ground up to fit in a home environment. It stands out with a unique and beautiful design, and innovative features. It’s the first flying indoor robot to be introduced to the market. With a non-threatening, sleek shape and fabric exterior, it’s safe to use at home, even around kids and pets.

Aire’s onboard sensors and powerful processors allow it to fly and navigate indoors even without GPS. When it’s close to the dock, it automatically docks and charges itself with the click of a button. Aire also comes fully equipped with 360 degree obstacles avoidance using a combination of sonar and 3D depth sensors.  The main camera is 4K and has night vision when used in the dock. Over-the-air-updates will enable new features and modes of operation in the future.

In order to bring Aevena’s vision of a premium and intelligent robot that fits effortlessly into the home, Aevena collaborated with industrial design firm Huge Design who has a track record of working on innovative personal robots.  Working closely with Aevena, Huge created a design that marries technical sophistication with a new level of seamless interaction within the connected home.

Founder and CEO Jeffrey Tseng shares with Droneblog a little bit about the background of Aire, and how it works:

Tell us a little about yourself and your background. How did you get into the drone/home security industry?

My field of study is electrical engineering, where I received my MS, but dropped out of my Ph.D program at UCLA to pursue my dream of doing startups.  While attending the UCLA graduate program, I spent a number of years doing research on drones/robots for military and environmental applications.  After leaving UCLA, I started a consulting business in embedded systems and ran that for a couple of years.  Next, I co-founded and was the CEO of a VC-backed social/mobile analytics company, which became recognized as the top analytics solution for social and mobile gaming.

But robotics has been a passion of mine since I was very young and it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to build a company that develops cutting edge products in this space.

What is Aire by Aevena? Who is it for and how does it work?

Aire by Aevena is the first self-flying robot designed specifically for the home.  It is designed for homeowners who want the piece of mind about their home when they are not there.

Unlike typical drones which are optimized for outdoor flight, Aire is meant to operate around people so we focused on safety, approachability, industrial design and user experience with an emphasis on sound quality.  With this in mind, we decided to go with a flight platform called a ducted fan, which is far more complex than a quadcopter, but was able to satisfy our vision of building a human-friendly flying robot.  To compliment the novel mechanical flight platform, we have added processors, sensors and software very similar to what you would find in a self-driving car to enable intelligent behaviors.

 

What problem are you a solution for? What advantages do you offer compared to other competitors?

When we first started the company, our vision was to build a fully autonomous flying photography robot, but as we showed potential customers the concept we continually got feedback that pushed us towards home monitoring & security.  People want peace of mind in their homes when they are away from them.  But with the current generation of internet enabled cameras, you either have blind spots or you need to blanket your entire home with cameras which most people feel is an invasion of privacy.  Expanding on the home monitoring & security theme, we also had many potential customers tell us this would be perfect for a remote vacation home, or for elderly monitoring.

Also, as an added bonus, Aire can be used to take pictures of family events as a robotic photographer.

 

What safety features are in place to prevent issues like crashes, hackers or other malfunctions?

We have multiple layers of safety features to prevent crashes and malfunctions.  At the highest level, we have sensors covering all 360 degrees to prevent the robot from running into things while in flight.  A mix of vision and sonar based sensors ensures that we are able to detect the different types of surfaces Aire may encounter in a home.  At the most fundamental level, Aire’s protective foam shell ensures that in rare case that it does crash, that it won’t harm the home or any users.

On the cloud connectivity side, we are using industry standard security measures to ensure Aire won’t be hacked.

 

What is your vision for your company over the next 1-2 years? How do you plan to keep reaching forward in making (flying) robots part of everyday life?

While we are launching first with the capability to monitor your home remotely and take pictures first, our goal is to expand the number of skills, or applications that are run on this platform.  Like Tesla vehicles, the hardware platform we are shipping with is much more powerful than is required for the initial applications.  This will allow us to vastly increase the capabilities of the robot through over-the-air updates.  After spending a couple of years talking to potential users, we have a large list of use cases that we think Aire will be uniquely positioned to address in the future.

The launch of Aire as it stands today is really just the beginning.  As we get this product to market, we are confident that this will spawn a whole new way of thinking about how robots can be used in the home.

 

Anything else you would like to add?

We absolutely acknowledge not just the technical complexity, but product complexity of getting a new product category like Aire to market and have not taken this lightly.  We have spent the last 3 years working very hard to deeply understand the risks and have systematically worked through them either by doing our own R&D or partnering with other companies that are experts in their fields.  So we are absolutely confident we will be able to deliver this product.

Lastly, we are launching on Kickstarter today (September 19th) and welcome the visionaries on the KS community to join us and be part of bringing Aire to every home.

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