Every Week we give you insights into a startup’s life, vision and business. This week we are happy to introduce you to Aerotain.

 ““Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”
Jimi Hendrix

What is the next high-flying idea in the fast-growing drone market? Can peaceful drones become even safer and more user-friendly? How can we turn these flying multi-purpose media platforms into brandable items that make people marvel, smile and laugh? Can they be made sufficiently safe that it is possible to touch them as they fly without fear of being injured? In our interview, AEROTAIN’s co-founder and managing director Daniel Meier discusses a new generation of drones that are designed to excite customer interest and bring brands closer to their hearts and minds

Daniel, do you have your head in the clouds?
Sometimes, maybe, but mostly I am pretty well down to earth, despite my passion for all things flying. Like my co-founders Andreas Schaffner and Matthias Krebs, I have a scientific background in robotics and 3d-technologies. During our studies at ETH Zurich and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we gained priceless insights into how we can make aerial vehicles more secure, safer, and better suited to tasks which were as yet unthought-of. My colleagues and I founded AEROTAIN in order to develop and launch a completely new species of harmless drones, which we named Skye – a contraction of ‘sky’ and ‘eye’. They have astonishing flight characteristics while at the same time being unprecedentedly safe.

There have been numerous drone crashes reported worldwide. What makes your solution so safe and people-friendly?
Skye has a spherical shape, is helium-lifted, and propelled by four special electric motors. It is a combination of Zeppelin and quadcopter – lightweight, agile, and easy to control. Its elegant and very smooth flight characteristics open new horizons in aerial entertainment and advertising. This aerial robot can safely fly close to people without endangering them. It can even be touched in flight by someone without either crashing or injuring them. Behaving like a good-natured, friendly, and highly agile bird, it can move in any horizontal and vertical direction. Skye can go up and down like a hummingbird or roll through the air like a football – always in full control. Thanks to its helium uplift, it can fly over large crowds at any altitude without danger of crashing, even in the unlikely event that the motors should fail. You can watch videos from several events, including conferences, job fairs, summits, and festivals, on our website to see them in action. It really is astonishing and entertaining to watch.

That sounds great. Could you give us a short overview of the different ways Skye can be used?
As a ‘flying eye’, Skye is a platform for cameras of any type. It can be used for filming events from above, taking aerial selfies or panoramic pictures. It offers no limit to either your imagination or your creativity. However, it has yet another dimension: due to its unique spherical shape and 3d flight characteristics in physical space, it is really great to look at and watch in full action. You can turn it into a flying 3d brand logo, giant floating football, or illuminated light ball. Drones become entertainers and iconic show elements. Companies can create unparalleled awareness for their brands by making audiences smile, and laugh in astonishment. Drones have never been so entertaining before! Once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget it.

What is the scientific story behind Skye?
As I mentioned before, at AEROTAIN we all have a background in science. Skye is the result of our vision to bring flying robots and aerial machines closer to people and their lives. Back in 2011, we conducted some research in collaboration with Disney Research Zurich and the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zurich. We studied several topic-related projects, with the overall aim of advancing drone technology for further applications and new purposes. In addition to this, Daniel, Matthias, and I worked on our master’s thesis at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This allowed us to further extend our knowledge on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and to create Skye.

Apart from drones, what is your vision of innovation?
At AEROTAIN we believe that innovation is not only about technics and technologies but also about making our lives happier, easier, and more enjoyable. This does not mean we turn a blind eye to possible challenges or even threats. However, we understand it as our task to help solve these issues and pave the way for new things that enable us to “kiss the sky” as Jimi Hendrix put it. So, here we go.

This was Aerotain at CeBIT 2016, Hannover, March 16th

Natascha Tummeley

Author Natascha Tummeley

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