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Five Up-and-Coming Drone Startups to Watch | Each Will Compete at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 for a Prize Valued at $35,000

BY Isabella Lee
22 March 2019

The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) has named five startup companies as finalists in the AUVSI Startup Showdown.

The competition identifies up-and-coming, investment-worthy startups and gives them a chance to win a package consisting of goods and services valued at $35,000. Each participating company will compete on stage at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 this May in Chicago. There they will have to pitch their business to a panel of industry leaders and an audience of unmanned systems professionals. A five-minute, live question and answer session with the judges will follow.

AUVSI Startup Showdown

The competition is powered by Starburst Accelerator, an organization that provides support to startups seeking to commercialize their activities in the aeronautics, defense, and space markets. Starburst acts as a catalyst, linking early-stage companies to a wide network of strategic industry players and potential partners to accelerate the adoption of breakthrough innovations.

The Five Up-and-Coming Drone Startups in the Finals of AUVSI Startup Showdown

The drone industry is an incredibly competitive market across all sectors, from hardware development to data-processing tools to delivery services. With over 100+ top drone companies already making a name for themselves, it takes a standout startup to enter the game. AUVSI has done an impressive job of identifying five new companies who can hold their own among the competition. Let’s take a look at the new and groundbreaking achievements that qualified these five companies to reach the Startup Showdown finals.


Cuberg is a graduate research company founded based on research from Stanford University’s materials science department. The company is focused on battery redesign addressing the major challenges of lithium-ion battery technology. In a first-of-its-kind flight, Cuberg powered a VTOL drone with a safe lithium metal battery and demonstrated a 70% longer flight time than the same drone powered by a lithium-ion battery.

VTOL Drone With A Lithium Metal Battery from Cuberg on Vimeo.

Horizon 31

Horizon 31 is a Tennessee-based business providing an unmanned vehicle communication system that allows global control, multiple vehicle control, network latency tolerance, and security. The system, Multimodal Autonomous Vehicle Network (MAVNet), is designed to operate unmanned vehicles with virtually unlimited range. One of the primary goals of their drone systems is to enable safe drone operations beyond visual line of sight.


Hionos is a safety-critical software development company based in Paris. They’re on a mission to make drones safer to enable flying vehicles and risky operations like beyond visual line of sight or over populated areas. The company has developed an autopilot system, called Pulsar, to enable drone use in critical operations. Pulsar is able to diagnose a drone’s health and to take the appropriate actions to guarantee a safe flight termination.


Internest, also based in Paris, designed and developed an embedded system based on hardware and firmware to assist and improve flight safety for drones and helicopters in critical operations. Their Local Landing System (LoLaS) provides accurate and reliable positioning information no matter the visibility, the weather, or the environment. Internest also recently announced their partnership with Skysense to unlock the potential of remote drone solutions.

Internest Startup Showdown

Source: Skysense


PreVision is a company based in New York that has developed Live Imagery Maps in Time (LIMIT), which allows users to see the world live in 3-D from any angle or perspective. PreVision users can see the world LIVE in 3D from any angle or perspective, like a live GoogleEarthTM with 4Hz update in full 3D. For immediate situation awareness LIMIT user gain prevision—the ability to see in advance; to predict or forecast, and to understand or foreknow. This new mapping technology could revolutionize the survey and mapping sector of drone professions.

Last year’s Startup Showdown winner was Iris Automation, a San Francisco-based company that has developed collision-avoidance technology to enable drones to safely fly beyond visual line of sight. The company was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to participate in three of the UAS Integration Pilot Program projects in the United States.

AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards Highlight More Groundbreaking Advancements in the Drone Industry

AUVSI XPONENTIAL is packed with opportunities for individuals and companies within the drone industry to make a name for themselves. In addition to the AUVSI Startup Showdown, there will also be a special event to present the AUVSI EXCELLENCE Award.

The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards honor innovators in the unmanned systems industry; individuals and organizations, with a demonstrated commitment to advancing technology; leaders in promoting safe practices; and programs that use unmanned systems to improve the human condition. Participants are able to submit their proposals in multiple categories across four areas: technology innovation, operations and safety, training and education, and humanitarian. Take a look at the full category lineup here.

UAV Coach CEO, Alan Perlman was invited to participate in the AUVSI EXCELLENCE Awards this year as a judge. The judging panel was appointed by AUVSI and consisted of industry experts, analysts, and members of the media. As a judge, Perlman had the unique privilege of getting to review applications in the Technology Innovation: Commercial/Enterprise Operation category.

The range of applications was pretty wild—from a large bridge delamination assessment to intelligent drone software and the Impossible US-1, an innovative sUAS with a record-breaking 90-minute battery life. Needless to say, if these proposals are any indicator of where the sUAS industry is heading, I’m quite giddy.

Check out this video on last year’s 2018 humanitarian awards finalists created by DJI, the sponsor of the Humanitarian awards category:

DJI - AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Award Highlights

Attend AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 | UAV Coach Reader Discounts

AUVSI XPONENTIAL is the largest trade show for the unmanned systems and robotics industry. The 2019 exhibit hall will showcase 700 cutting-edge companies from around the world and more than 150 sessions of educational programming, providing information about the future of unmanned systems policy, technology, business solutions, and trending topics.

UAV Coach readers can use the discount code UAVCXPO19 for $25 off of the XPO Hall Pass, $75 off of the Full Conference Pass and $100 off of the VIP Pass. All registration levels include access to the XPO Hall, Keynote Sessions, special feature event Startup Showdown, and special feature event Women and Diversity in Robotics.

Which of the five finalists to you think will win the AUVSI Startup Showdown? Let us know in this thread on our community forum.

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