Innovator Jaz Banga
Chief executive officer of Airspace Systems, a 20-person San Francisco startup
Form and function
Airspace’s Interceptor is itself a drone, as small as a carry-on suitcase, designed to intercept, entangle, and retrieve a fellow robocopter. Airspace is pitching it as an answer to unwanted drones buzzing airports, stadiums, and corporate offices.
A smartphone running Airspace’s app can use its camera to lock onto an approaching drone and sic the Interceptor, which flies at up to twice the speed of the fastest commercial drone, on the target.
The catcher drone fires a Kevlar net that tangles up the incoming drone’s propellers, then tows it to a landing location set with the phone. The Airspace design can release emergency parachutes if the other bot is too heavy.
Banga began thinking about drone defense after a quadcopter hovering above his Burning Man campsite creeped him out. He co-founded Airspace soon after, in 2014.
The company declined to name prices for the drone or its software, which it says will require a recurring fee.
Airspace has raised $8 million from investors including Sterling.VC, whose owner also controls the New York Mets, an early tester.
Competing anti-drone technologies include signal-jamming guns, hacking tools that use radio waves, and, in the Netherlands, trained eagles.
Airspace says it will start selling drones in the first quarter of 2017 and is doubling its staff to accommodate customers who want field tests. Banga says he’s also about ready to start seeking more funding. With drones becoming a greater concern, says Farzam Kamel, a partner at Sterling.VC, “you want to be ahead of the curve.”