Jeff Pesek (JP): Welcome to the TEKNE Awards, we’re chatting with Robert [Malecki] and Ryan [Thompson] from Xollai, Robert is co founder and CEO, Ryan is also a co founder and an engineer for the company. For those who may not be familiar with the company, it’s a blend of hardware + software, but I’ll let you describe — what is the company and what do you do?
Robert Malecki (RM): The product that we were up for the award is the autonomous landing system for unmanned aircraft. It’s an optically based landing system that precisely guides small aircraft within a five foot radius of a landing zone. It’s independent of GPS and it’s basically you push-button and it lands the aircraft.
JP: Who uses this?
RM: The market for this product is basically the military, and also, commercial aviation products. The demand for small UAS is very high. As the availability to use airspace in the US becomes more available, there can be a commercial application also.
JP: And if you could articulate, Ryan, what is the innovation here? What is the differentiating factor for Xollai vs. anything else that’s on the market?
Ryan Thompson (RS): Our algorithms are 3D pose approximation using just a 2 dimensional image. So we can have a camera on the ground that looks up into the sky, can see the object, and actually get its position relative to the camera and its orientation. This is something that nobody else can do and we can do it in real time quickly enough to land an aircraft.
JP: Interesting. When and where did Xollai start?
RM: Xollai started in 2008 by four engineering students from UST in my living room. We eventually moved out to a small modest 400 square foot office and we’re now in about 5,000 square feet with nine employees.
JP: That’s awesome, congratulations…we’ve been chatting with Robert and Ryan from Xollai, thanks guys!