Co-Founder of XTEND
So we are back with another version of our expert interview series with another excellent drone personality who is the Co-Founder and CEO of XTEND. It’s time to welcome Aviv Shapira.
When he’s not working as an Aerospace Engineer or winning Emmy awards, Aviv is the three girls’ father, where they live in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Today, he will be answering all the things related to drones, how he got into the industry, his aerospace experience, their drone-related products, and so on.
Let us hear it from Aviv himself!
Let’s Start the Interview
Welcome Aviv Shapira, tell us about yourself and your background?
My passion for flight began at the age of 10, but I launched my professional career as an entrepreneur working with several small business ventures. Since then, I founded three startups from which two went on to be acquired.
Although my current work is in aerospace, I am best known for my work in the sports-tech industry, where I co-founded Replay Technologies, where I won two Emmy Awards for the best broadcasting technology of 2013 and 2015.
Replay was known for inventing a new volumetric video format implemented at major sports events worldwide, and Intel eventually acquired us in 2016.
My aerospace background, combined with over ten years in space and drone industry, has resulted in a new startup called XTEND, a mixture of my passion, expertise, and hobbies.
XTEND, in the field of Extended Reality, aims to give people the ability to fly through an immersive experience using VR and cutting-edge drone technologies. XTEND is ‘super-powering’ people by enabling operators to interactively experience remote locations live for various professional and consumer applications.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
I’ve loved aerospace from a very young age. I graduated with distinction from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology at school, where I studied Aeronautics and Space. I later became a rocket scientist in the Israeli Defense Forces.
From there, I started to fly drones for a hobby and immediately noticed how hard it is to fly them and started thinking how I could make my passion more intuitive and helpful – and that eventually led to the invention of XTEND.
Tell us about your company, what it is, and how did it get started?
XTEND is all about allowing human operators to interactively experience remote locations in real-time as if they are there; however, the vision for our Telepresence Platform began ten years ago.
Our previous company, Replay, had the same idea but completely different implementation.
Replay Technologies built the world in 3D, allowing users to place themselves into the middle of the action. We won several major awards and sold to Intel for $175M.
With XTEND, we started building a gaming MVP (minimum viable product) that allows anyone to fly a drone at 150 Km/h.
We were out on a mission to disrupt the gaming market, but what eventually happened is that we used our gaming products to intercept 2,500 terror balloons and kites in the Gaza border.
The same product has now grown to be the #1 C-UAS solution for the U.S. DoD.
Tell us about some of the drones/products you design and manufacture?
Our product suite enables an operator with zero experience to learn how to fly like a pro within a few minutes of training, indoor or outdoor, with or without GPS. We have 5 product lines, all under the Skylord Family:
- XTENDER: The most advanced urban warfare solution allows security personnel to step inside the drone virtually and enter indoor facilities from remote.
- Hunter: C-UAS solution. A system made of a high-speed drone (150 km/h), queued from a third-party detection system (radar, EO, etc.), and holds a computer vision ability to intercept rogue drones using a dedicated tactical net.
- MMU (Multi-Mission UAS): An aerial multi-mission tool for various missions that requires interaction with the ground. One of the most advanced and operational cIED systems in the world.
- Field Commander: Allowing a team of operators to control a group of drones, from remote. Each drone has different payloads for different missions or hot swaps.
- BATO: Allowing security personnel to protect indoor facilities from remote.
Will we see more drones manufactured in the USA following the recent DoD ban on Chinese-made drones?
All our U.S. projects comply with the Cyber Act, which means U.S.-made drones, and we see incredible potential for growth in this area for XTEND.
What is counter-drone technology, and how does it work?
HUNTER, our C-UAS solution, is made of a high-speed drone (150 km/h) that can integrate with multiple detection systems (radar, EO, etc.) It also provides a computer vision ability to intercept rogue drones using a dedicated tactical net.
Your drones are used in operational missions to protect soldiers. What does it mean to the future of smart systems with Military Forces?
In our vision, all future missions will include human-guided robotics. There is no need to risk human lives by physically entering dangerous areas, and that’s what Skylord’s Family of products is all about.
When you’re not working, where would we find you?
Look toward the water, and you’ll find me with my family on the waves.