On 08 Dec 2017, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announces 6 new investments in open source technology solutions – Autonomous Systems Research is among one of six new portfolio companies to receive investment.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund invests in technology start-ups from developing markets that are working on open source solutions to improve children’s lives. The Innovation Fund applies a venture capital approach to source solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. These solutions are clustered around $100billion industries in frontier technology spaces.
Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org for more information – including real-time data – on each investment.

How would you describe your solution to children?

You see a remote island – inaccessible by land – and want to know more about it. Are there people living there? Are there schools? Are there endangered animals?

You can take a plane and fly up to observe – but it’s not easy. How about flying a drone up there, allowing it to report back images to you? Autonomous Systems Research (ASR) is developing open source imagery and processing software for drones to generate data up in the air. Air missions will be able to acquire timely data remotely without an actual contact with the area or item of interest.

How would you describe it, if your audience comprised of subject matter experts and investors?

In closer detail, ASR is building infrastructure remote sensing software and hardware which can be integrated into drones to collect, generate, and store data. This data will be then be disseminated via web portals and SMS platforms.

We aim to significantly contribute to the ecosystem of production and enhancement of aerial imaging capabilities of drones- ensuring high precision and reliable data collection and analysis for rapid responses in densely populated areas.

What is unique about your solution and how is it different from what currently exists?

Our ecosystem leverages entirely open-source software and hardware, and hence the overall footprint and total cost of ownership is significantly lower than in a conventional system. Our system will bring new ways of touring wild-life sanctuaries in a non-invasive manner – beneficial for tourism and revenue generation – and concurrently boosting conservation measures on those sanctuaries.

Why does being open-source make your solution better?

By opening up our solution stack publicly, we receive a diverse amount of peer review. This will enhance the overall quality of our product and its features. This also means opportunity for growth and scale – as it will encourage many people to adopt and use our solution as the total cost of ownership is significantly lower than proprietary solutions.

How did you come up with your solution and what inspired you to form your company?

The solution began with an attempt to build an elephant conservation system back in 2011. It became apparent that the data derived from the system was too basic and raw and needed heavy post-processing to make much impact. Hence, ASR was formed with the goal to deliver more precise and reliable data -not only in the conservation arena but also in agriculture, scientific research, tourism to mention but a few.

How did your team come together? What is your team’s MO and drive towards the problem you’re trying to solve?

Our team is driven by our passion to address the gaps conservation and farming systems through the adoption of technology. This is our mission. This is our vision. We pride ourselves in knowing we can impact and shape positively, conservation, farming and ecological surveys through building open source tools and systems. 

What do you plan on doing with UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment and how will you use that to leverage raising follow-on investment?

We will use UNICEF’s Innovation Fund investment to completely build our ecosystem, evolve the software and hardware stack developed, and generate use-case applications.

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