August 31, 2017 By Applied Innovation

Wayfinder startup Flyspan is solving the problem of drone fleet management through their intelligent decision making Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). With an ever growing drone industry that caters to a diverse range of markets ranging from agriculture, defense, energy, and more, the Flyspan team has identified the problems around gathering analytics and real-time data that companies using this technology need to be solved.

Founders Brock P. Christoval and Vinny Capobianco came together to start Flyspan in 2013 after meeting in their respective roles with the Department of Defense, one of the largest drone fleet operators in the world. By the time of the company’s founding, Christoval and Capobianco built a body of expertise for their startup through careers as engineers in unmanned systems analytics, systems engineering, 3D printing, data science, and computational fluid dynamics. Additionally, both Christoval and Capobianco each founded startups before Flyspan, which include companies such as Imagin3d Printing, Infinite Technology Design, and Earthaby, Inc.

Their previous expertise and research on the drone industry yielded insights into the challenges that arise when organizations want to bring drone technology to their businesses. “[Companies] will need a solutions provider with superior technical expertise in engineering things, from problem to solution,” said Christoval, co-founder of Flyspan. The solution Flyspan developed is, a proprietary, integrated software platform providing analytics in real-time. With up-to-date information, users are empowered with the data from their drone fleet to make meaningful decisions in a timely fashion.

Eventually discovering the Wayfinder incubator program at Applied Innovation after exploring technology from the university to potentially license, the Flyspan team applied for the competitive program and was admitted. They have been part of the Wayfinder cohort since April of 2017. “The Wayfinder program at the Cove at UCI Applied Innovation has given us access to amazing mentors and resources that we previously did not have access to. During our time as a Wayfinder team we have been able to grow our capabilities and partnerships,” said members of the Flyspan team.

Flyspan has also received recognition from the Office of California Governor Jerry Brown. A highlight for the team includes the governor’s office using Flyspan’s published papers to study the potential of drone use — culminating in Flyspan participating in a panel discussion held in Sacramento on the potential of the commercial drone industry for the state of California.

A significant milestone in April of this year, Flyspan partnered with NASA to “tackle the crowded skies” through their drone technology. Alongside more than 70 of the world’s foremost authorities on drones, Flyspan demonstrated its software at a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) site for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) test. With no established infrastructure to enable and safely manage the widespread use of low-altitude airspace and UAS, NASA is exploring a UAS Traffic Management system for airspace integration requirements. An established standard would enable safe, efficient, low-altitude operations to potentially provide delivery of goods, infrastructure inspection, search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring services without interfering with buildings, larger aircraft, or other drones in the same space. Press coverage on the NASA partnership with Flyspan and the other organizations include Science X and Wired.

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