A Tampa company with technology that can detect malicious drones and other potential safety threats has won a federal grant to advance its products.
Entropy Technology Design received a Phase I grant from the United States Air Force under the auspices of the Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research. The SBIR grant, up to $75,000, will be used to further develop Entropy’s most advanced product candidate, MAD, or Magnetic Anomaly Detection.
MAD was derived from Entropy’s platform technology, termed NIMBUS. The NIMBUS technology detects very low frequency magnetic signals that are generated by thunderstorms and other severe weather.
“Our specialty has always been better weather detection information,” said Tami Fitzpatrick, Entropy founder and CEO. Using propriety intellectual property, “We pull in data from that frequency better than anyone else.”
Entropy has developed small sensors that fit in the palm of a hand but are powerful enough to detect lighting, tornadoes and other weather anomalies in a 600-mile radius, Fitzpatrick said. That allows for more informed decisions in critical situations that can lower the number of injuries and deaths.
Initially, the company only looked at the data it collected that was weather-related, pushing aside other data that it considered to be “noise.”
“When we took a second look at that noise we realized it was very valuable,” Fitzpatrick said. “We were picking up drones, malicious or otherwise. We can detect incoming mortar.”
The technology also could detect anomalies in electrical distribution transformers, such as those suspected of causing some of the California wildfires. Additionally, it works both above ground and under water.
The SBIR contract calls for Entropy to use grant funding for two purposes:
Magnetic mapping of infrastructure and systems to identify change in operational status (such as electrical transformers)
UAV detection of critical airspace (drones)
The grant is a great opportunity to expand outside the company’s commercial applications, Fitzpatrick said.
“As a women-owned small business in the advanced technology sector, this represent a comprehensive opportunity to address safety, productivity and liability in the weather disaster and threat sectors,” she said.
“We believe that NIMBUS will open untapped data fields across a variety of critical applications and create new ways to react to new and dangerous types of threats,” said Edward Shaver, Entropy’s chief technology officer and principal investigator.
A second phase of the SBIR grant could provide up to $750,000, Fitzpatrick said.
Entropy, which incorporated in 2014, has raised about $1 million in financial backing. The company is still pre-revenue but is close to a commercial launch of its products.
Once it launches, Fitzpatrick projected a hockey stick impact, with a sharp upward rise in sales.
“This year promises to be an exciting one for us,” Fitzpatrick said.
Grant will support development of NIMBUS™ MAD product for Cyber Security of Physical Systems, Infrastructure and Energy Systems
Entropy Technology Design, Inc., announced today the receipt of a Phase I grant from the United States Air Force under the auspices of the Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). The grant will be utilized for the development of NIMBUS™ MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) to detect and identify the operational status of cyber security for physical systems in real-time. The conceptual design phase of the contract will focus on three areas of technology capability in the NIMBUS MAD:
Magnetic mapping of infrastructure and systems to identify change in operational status.
Real-time disconnect of critical systems to offer protection from weather or other magnetic events (solar storms, EMP)
UAV detection of critical airspace.
An official statement from the Department of Defense said: “AFRL and MD5 have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.3, the National Security Technology Accelerator has begun offering ‘Special’ SBIR topics that are faster, leaner and open to a broader range of innovations. L and MD5 have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Tami Fitzpatrick, CEO of Entropy Technology Design stated, “Entropy’s selection in this SBIR program supports the expansion of our multilateral technology platform by developing opportunities in verticals outside our commercial applications. As a women-owned small business in the advanced technology sector, this represent a comprehensive opportunity to address safety, productivity and liability in the weather disaster and threat sectors.” Entropy’s team of professionals has over 30 years industry expertise in VLF magnetic field detection and is an early stage company developing multi-functional threat detectors for the rapidly growing smart city, electronic, weather, and threat safety markets. Superior weather, threat and arc flash information allows for more informed decisions in critical situations to reduce injuries, fatalities equipment damage, outages and large-scale disaster. The Company’s most advanced product candidate, MAD, was derived from its platform technology termed NIMBUS™.
Organized by Dreamit (a leading early-stage venture fund) and Bisnow, this two-day event featured dual content and networking tracks aimed at driving cross-industry innovation for urbantech and healthtech. An all-star line-up of industry titans, high-ranking government officials, innovators, and entrepreneurs provided actionable insights and unparalleled networking.
As major storms and potential terrorism have made America aware of the vulnerability and critical nature of our electric infrastructure (think Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria), new ideas are needed to better protect this essential part of our overall critical infrastructure systems and to repair it more quickly when it does get hit.
Awhile back, I wrote about a technology that could detect incoming lightning strikes with enough warning time to get exposed people to safety.
The Nimbus technology detects very low frequency magnetic signals that are generated by thunderstorms, hurricanes, and other severe weather.
In its basic form, the Nimbus 4D handheld detector could allow attendees of outside public events (ballgames, camps, concerts, etc.) to be moved to shelter before anyone was hurt.
Applied in different forms and to larger scales, the Nimbus technology could enhance our ability to detect and provide critical warning about thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The same base technology also could be modified to “see” small drones approaching facilities with possible hostile intent, with enough time to take counter measures.
All this remains on the cutting edge, but many experts contacted me (and Entropy Technology Design, the designers of Nimbus) and said, “Great stuff, but it is still a ‘nice-to-have’ tech capability.” But memorably heavy storms in recent years may enable this technology to make the leap to the status of a necessity.
The devastation wrought by big storms is always a tragedy, but in some cases it is catastrophic. A regular thunderstorm can knock out dozens to hundreds of neighborhood electrical transformers. Bigger storms (hurricanes, tornadoes, squall lines) can take that number into the thousands. The island of Puerto Rico lost nearly everything.
What if the good guys could “read” the storms before they hit and were able to power down the transformers (and other electric transmission infrastructure) in the likely target area? What if they could do it seconds before the storm hits and causes an electronic surge or flips their fuses? The transformers then could be turned back on without problem as soon as the storm passes.
And what about the transformers that do get hit and damaged?
You can use the same technology to locate the specific transformers that need physical repair versus mere reset. A huge portion of the recovery time after a major storm is spent in going from transformer to transformer to see which are broken and which just need their fuses flipped.
This may sound like wishful thinking, but it actually is achievable today and Entropy also is focused on this.
Infrastructure mapping has become a critical part of the development of the Internet of Things—the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with software, sensors, and connectivity that enables them to connect and exchange data—and the goal of smart cities.
Smart cities seek to use the Internet of Things to provide a detailed, real-time data web that can be used by the city infrastructure to make critical decisions quickly, safely, and seamlessly. The same logic that will allow your refrigerator to tell you to buy milk as you drive by the grocery store can be used to take important city equipment off-line before it’s damaged by a thunderstorm.
In both examples, the data is real and delivered exactly where it’s needed in time to make a quality-of-life decision.
But cities can’t become truly smart until the very real threat from dangerous weather is made a part of the moment-to-moment database used to make decisions.
The Nimbus technology represents one way to add this important weather data into the planning and reaction capability of a smart city. Because the Nimbus was designed to be small and portable, it’s easily mounted on commercially available drones of the sort that are owned and operated by lots of folks today. That new concept can be used in several ways that feed on each other to provide a comprehensive system.
The first step is to “map” the electric transmission infrastructure, in particular the unique “fingerprint” of the radiated magnetic field produced by the different parts of the system (major transmission line towers, normal power poles, and neighborhood transformers). There are an enormous number of miles of these systems, but by using multiple low-cost drones, this can be done fairly quickly.
Once this map of “normal” is obtained, you have a baseline heartbeat of the city, town, or infrastructure that tells what the system looks like when in normal operation. As a storm approaches, operators use the Nimbus Base Station (provides more range and thus warning) in its original mode to determine the storm’s likely specific target area and use this information to preemptively shut down key elements seconds before the hit, and to restart it as the storm passes.
This alone would limit the damage to a point far below the norm for a major event. You don’t need to shut down an entire system for hours, or lose it for weeks when you truly can limit the shutdown to seconds (perfect for critical systems) and keep the damage to a minimum.
The final piece is sending out the same drone fleet after the storm to find the specific transformers or towers that no longer “match” the baseline. This pinpoints which should be prioritized for repair, which will allow it to be accomplished with fewer repair assets and eliminate the need for checking every individual device in the effected area.
This is a classic example of the out-of-the-box thinking we need today. By using a linked technology in different manners to accomplish multiple tasks, you save money, space, and training. Can any community or power provider afford to not invest in this kind of capability?
Nimbus may have been a cool, added safety device before, but this wider application is absolutely needed today. No one could have foreseen how brittle the critical infrastructure of Puerto Rico had become. Hurricane Maria simply destroyed it.
The American people have stated clearly they think the recovery operation is too slow, despite the Herculean efforts being made. We must do better as a society, and the goals and visions of the Internet of Things and smart cities as a driver can help us accomplish this.
Today there is a choice. Deployment of technologies such as Nimbus can map our infrastructure systems, identify a storm’s target, guide mitigating actions to minimize damage (and downtime), and finally triage the recovery effort. Every step gets citizens back up and on the grid faster and more effectively.
All together, this means less suffering and less cost. The investment is small compared to the savings.
Why are we waiting?
PHOTO CREDIT: A Puerto Rico resident clears away debris left in Hurricane Maria’s wake. (Photo: Carl Juste/Zuma Press/Newscom)
NIMBUS™ IMDAR wins Phase I competition of Army xTech Search!
The U.S. Army is looking to build more relationships with tech startups and other “non-traditional defense partners.”
The Army Expeditionary Technology Search — or xTechSearch — is an initiative of the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, also known as ASA(ALT).
The goal is to “enhance engagements” with the entrepreneurial community and improve the Army’s understanding of what’s potentially available, while integrating some of these innovators into the military’s tech ecosystem. And there’s a total of $1.95 million up for grabs.
“xTechSearch is a novel approach for linking innovators directly with the Army labs, with a focus on lowering the entrance barriers and spurring innovation,” the challenge page reads.
The prize competition will run in four stages between now and April 2019. The final winner will walk away with $200,000 in addition to intermediate prizes at each stage of the challenge.
The challenge outlines a number of specific “Army modernization priorities.” These include next generation combat vehicles, air and missile defense systems, “soldier lethality” and more. The Army imagines that participant startups might, for example, provide next-generation radar, better soldier protection equipment, gun-based unmanned aircraft systems or the necessary hardware and software to secure tactical communications.
The first stage of the challenge is open to all small businesses interested in pitching “novel technology solutions — a new application for an existing technology or a new technology concept entirely — to the Army.” This stage requires a tech proposal white paper, of under 1,000 words, due by July 11.
The submitted proposals will be judged by team experience, viability and, most importantly, “Potential for Impact/Revolutionizing the Army.”
Up to 125 winners at this stage will get $1,000 and an invitation to move forward with phase two.
PHOTO CREDIT: New York National Guard soldiers clear a M777 Howitzer on Fort Drum in Watertown, New York, on May 22, 2018. (U.S. Army / Spc. Andrew Valenza)
Independent Consultant and Visiting Research Fellow for Special Operations
and Counter Terrorism at The Heritage Foundation
NIMBUS – An Existing Technology with a New Twist Shows Incredible Promise
Today we have access to more information than at any other time in human history. Frankly, we
can be overwhelmed the massive amounts of information and data flying at us in a nearly
continual stream. How can we harness crucial information and actually use it effectively? What
if one base technology could help give us critical information in multiple areas? There is one
available today. continue reading