Helen Greiner didn’t just put the ‘robot’ in iRobot. Starting as an 11-year-old who wanted to build robots, she achieved her a dream twice: after co-founding iRobot and ushering it to an IPO in 2005, Greiner left to create a second company, CyPhy Works, that builds flying robots.
Greiner spoke at the RoboBusiness conference in Boston last week, and shared her views on some of the challenges facing the commercial drone industry. Chief among them: How do you grow while the Federal Aviation Administration enforces a ban on flight?
Greiner’s Danvers startup CyPhy Works builds “persistent flying” drones. These are small hovering drones, tethered to a power source and can stay hovering overhead for hours.
Until recently, the FAA has been grounding all commercial drone-makers that have tried to fly their crafts in US air space without explicit permission. In September, the FAA announced that it was granting movie makers access to the skies. That was only slighty surprising considering how camera-strapped drones are a favorite among film-makers and photographers — and considering Hollywood’s clout.
Greiner said that the FAA’s approach to opening up the airspace industry-by-industry is a mistake: It restricts access to groups that have the strongest lobbying power, stacking the deck against companies developing new technology. “I think it really discriminates against the small innovative people and that’s not something the government should be doing,” she told a filled room.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com