Aero is automating battery and payload swapping for drones – Meczyki.Net

Any year, the real unsung highlight again: Mars is home to dozens or so startups and researchers showing off their wares on the show floor. There are always some cool projects that have somehow managed to escape our radar. Airrow in Los Angeles jumped out with a clever product offering.

Startup makes a device designed to automatically remove and replace batteries and payloads for drones. It works similar to a CNC machine or 3D printer, with a gantry that moves along the x- and y-axis to bring the battery from the charger to the drone and back again.

The process is currently a manual one, requiring a human to swap and replace. It’s only a little inconvenient one-on-one, but can become a major hassle when scaling up, like, say, in the case of drone-based food delivery programs.

The system is still in very early stages. The team was demonstrating the battery swap at the event, and is currently working on scaling the process up to payloads. It currently takes a full two minutes for a swap to finish, but Airrow is working to reduce it to about 30 seconds. One thing at a time, for a small team that currently has five employees. Headcount expansion is a big part of the company’s plans as it prepares to raise its next round, adding to the $350,000 pre-seeds raised thus far.

In addition to distribution applications, military use is a major potential customer here. After all, they need drones and they have deep pockets when it comes to investing in tech solutions. Founder and CEO Menachem Fehler told me that the company is currently in talks with Navy SEALs about a possible deployment, which could help keep drones in the air consistently. Airrow has also spoken with several law enforcement organizations.

Solutions don’t come cheap. The startup is currently looking at a price point between $80,000-$100,000 for a bundle that also includes a drone.

“At this stage, we are still looking at what is the best approach, but we want to deliver an end-to-end solution,” Fehler tells Meczyki.Net. However, the company will also customize the system to work with different drones to meet the specific needs of the customer.