Aerial Innovation: The AirShare Success Story

May 22, 2024

Modern warfare faces new challenges with the rise of low-cost autonomous drones that traditional techniques struggle to counter. This problem inspired AirShare co-founders Rick Whittaker and Shanaz Sigouin to find a solution.

The logo for AirShare, which features a drone flying over the A and the IWhile they and their team worked on “drone disabler” missile prototypes, they recognized the need for sophisticated machine-vision software to autonomously detect and track adversarial drones.

Already collaborating with Invest Ottawa on other startup needs, Rick and Shanaz turned to the economic development agency once again for additional support. Invest Ottawa connected AirShare with the Office of Applied Research at Algonquin College, an innovative program supporting high-tech companies in realizing their concepts.

Algonquin College Logo

At Algonquin, Theodore Mirtchev and Adesh Nilesh Shah, along with a dedicated team of students, helped AirShare create sensor input and autonomous control software for a prototype missile system that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.

This collaboration was essential in allowing AirShare to navigate the complex process of bringing a high-tech product to market. Algonquin’s policy of letting intellectual property remain with industry partners makes collaboration attractive for companies to augment their innovation with the latest research and eager creative minds.

The AirShare team working outside in cold weather with drone disabling missile prototypes.

The Applied Research program is also extremely beneficial for students who are compensated for their contributions and get real-world project experience to help them transition into the workforce. This program has a proven track record of success, as evidenced by its 100 per cent job placement rate over the past two decades.

Through this alliance, AirShare developed ground-breaking machine-vision technology to work with their guided missiles, using completely commercial off-the-shelf components.

The result is a low-cost system that neutralizes rogue drones by entangling their rotors with a safe proprietary material.

This technology evolved from a mere concept to a robust prototype, capable of differentiating drones from other objects and deploying its neutralizing system only when a target is confirmed and within range. AirShare continues to refine this system and modify it to safeguard spaces – everything from military installations to private property.

A prototype of a drone disabling missile developed by AirShare

The success of this collaboration culminated in a contract with Canada’s special forces, marking a significant leap from prototype to operational technology. This achievement is not only a victory for AirShare but also a testament to the supportive ecosystem fostered by Invest Ottawa and Algonquin College. Together, they’ve established a strong relationship that drives local innovation, empowers students, and reinforces Ottawa’s reputation as a technology hub.

Since the launch of Area X.O in 2020, Ottawa’s R&D complex for next-gen mobility, autonomy and connectivity, AirShare has also engaged in various Area X.O events, including the epic Canadian demonstration day TCXpo in 2023.  Area X.O was recently named a NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) Test Centre.

AirShare continues to collaborate with partner Invest Ottawa through the innovation community based within Ottawa’s Innovation Hub, Bayview Yards. The environment at Bayview Yards brings industry leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators together in a dynamic and thriving business acceleration ecosystem fostering creativity, innovation, and collaboration – all essential elements for business acceleration and growth.

Leasing commercial office space at Bayview Yards can provide a strategic advantage for businesses looking to thrive in Ottawa’s innovation landscape. Learn more about the opportunities to join the innovation community.

Are you a tech company looking to leverage Invest Ottawa’s programs? The IO Venture Path is a portfolio of Invest Ottawa’s venture programs designed to help Ottawa’s startups and scaleups shorten their path to success. Learn more about the Venture Path programs.

On September 26th Area X.O. will host GCXpo 2024 – the epic Canadian smart mobility demo day, in partnership with the Government of Canada and event sponsors.  Interested in being a GCXpo sponsor, partner, demonstrator or exhibitor? Contact our team here.



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