Van Marketingfacts: Camiel Verschoor (Birds.ai): “Drones in combinatie met A.I. gaan de inspectiemarkt veranderen”

De basis voor Birds.ai werd gelegd in de studententijd. Studenten van de TU Delft, de UVA en de Hogeschool Amsterdam werkten samen aan een drone waarmee de neushoorn in Zuid-Afrika zou kunnen worden gered van stropers. “We ontwikkelden een prototype van een drone die boven een park kan vliegen, beelden maakt en die automatisch doorzoekt op mensen en dieren. Daar is het mee begonnen”, aldus CEO Camiel Verschoor. Mooie missie, geslaagd project, maar helaas lastig om naar een commercieel draaiend bedrijf om te bouwen. Vandaar de start van Birds.ai. 

Birds.ai richt zich op de automatische inspectie van bijvoorbeeld windmolens. Daarbij wordt gebruik gemaakt van zowel drones als een vorm van machine learning, het zogenaamde deep learning.

“Wat we eigenlijk doen, is van elk soort defect een aantal voorbeelden laten zien waarmee we het algoritme leren wat voor defecten er zijn. Als het goed is gaat het systeem die na verloop van tijd zelf herkennen. Op dit moment doet een inspecteur zo’n analyse met de hand, maar dat betekent vierhonderd plaatjes bekijken, wat ongeveer drie tot vier uur op een dag kost. Wij zeggen: in deze groep van plaatjes zitten defecten en de andere groep plaatjes kun je weggooien, zodat het bekijken minder tijd kost. Uiteindelijk kunnen we defecten ook echt herkennen en zeggen waar ze zitten, maar we proberen ons model zo stapsgewijs steeds beter te maken.”

“Inspectie en agricultuur zijn dé twee grote markten in de dronewereld”

Inspectie en agricultuur zijn dé twee grote markten in de dronewereld op dit moment. Drones kunnen bijvoorbeeld eenvoudig over de velden vliegen om te zien hoe de gewassen er bij staan. Door met bepaalde infraroodsensoren dieper te meten dan wat het oog kan zien, kunnen boeren worden geholpen. Maar het gaat verder dan de boer.

“Door machine learning te gebruiken kun je volautomatisch een bewateringssysteem aansturen. Dat levert besparing aan water op, maar mogelijk ook aan mest en misschien zelfs aan pesticiden. Want het vertelt je precies waar je moet spuiten. Nu gaan boeren vaak aan de slag als de buurman aan de slag gaat. Er zijn ook boeren die al heel veel met data doen, maar er is winst te behalen.”

Een prettige bijkomstigheid van de wereld van de agricultuur: het luistert daar minder nauw dan in de windmolenwereld. “Bij agricultuur is het wat makkelijker, want daar is een fout maken niet zo erg: één plantje meer of minder, daar kan een boer mee leven. Maar een defect meer of minder in een windmolen is geen optie.”

Birds.ai wil op beide terreinen goed werk afleveren. Om een wereldwijde markt te bereiken wordt samengewerkt met droneplatformem, zoals bijvoorbeeld Dronedeploy. Makers van plantenkaarten worden geautomatiseerd attent gemaakt op de mogelijkheid van analyse van de beelden. “Ze betalen veertien dollar per kaart die we analyseren. Bij windturbines rekenen we af per molen, dat kost een paar tientjes per molen, maar we zijn nog aan het kijken naar de prijs. Handmatige inspectie kost op dit moment driehonderd tot vijfhonderd euro als je een drone gebruikt. En handmatige inspectie, met omhoog klimmen, kost op dit moment vijftienhonderd euro. Wij zitten daar dus ver onder en ons product is schaalbaar.”

“Een windmolen tot in detail zelflerend analyseren kost focus en tijd”

Naast windmolens en landbouw ziet Verschoor meer mogelijkheden. “We kijken naar zonnepanelen. En denk aan alle zendmasten van telefoniebedrijven die elk jaar geïnspecteerd moeten worden. Dat is een grote markt. En op dit moment worden voor het inspecteren en vrijhouden van gasleidingen helikopters gebruikt. Elke maand moet er worden gecontroleerd of de leidingen vrij blijven en niemand er iets tegen aanlegt of bouwt. (…) Iets anders waar we naar aan het kijken zijn, is het inspecteren van grote olietanks. Dat gebeurt nu met de hand, maar als je dat kunt inscannen en analyseren. Dus de drone is een startpunt, maar zeker geen eindpunt. Het moeilijke van a.i. en beeldherkenning is dat er zoveel mogelijkheden zijn, dus je moet je ergens op focussen.”

Dat is ook de reden waarom Verschoor zich niet echt druk maakt over mogelijke concurrentie. “Er zijn heel veel bedrijven mee bezig, maar vaak op andere onderdelen. Er zijn zoveel markten waar je op kunt focussen dat er ruimte is voor meerdere partijen. Een windmolen tot in detail zelflerend analyseren kost echt focus en tijd. Ik zie ook niet per se hele grote partijen die zich nu specifiek op dronebeelden richten. Er zijn wel kleine startups zoals wij die daarop focussen. Dat marktaandeel is wel keihard aan het groeien. Als je ziet dat een drone-inspectie 25 procent goedkoper is dan handmatige inspectie, waarom zou je het dan nog handmatig doen? Dat is op dit moment ons verkoopargument. Op een gegeven moment wordt de inspectie met een computer waarschijnlijk ook beter dan die door de mens, maar dat is nu nog moeilijk te bewijzen.”

Bron: Marketingfacts

Birds.ai Launches in the DroneDeploy App Market

Today Birds.ai announces that its app will be available on the DroneDeploy App Market, the first drone industry app store.  The Birds.ai app identifies, measures, tracks, and reports the status of objects in aerial imagery taken by drones.   Because the Birds.ai app learns to track whatever the user directs it to, it can be used for a broad range of purposes and industries – from reporting the condition of wind turbines, to measuring plant growth.

CEO Camiel Verschoor said: “Launching our app in the DroneDeploy App Market will make our revolutionary object detection technology available to the worldwide community. This is a first great step in our efforts to distribute our services to everyone around the globe.”

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud-based drone software platform.  Through the App Market, Birds.ai’s services will now be available to DroneDeploy’s 10,000+ users across 135 countries, online and on mobile devices.  The Birds.ai app is $14 per map and customers can request unlimited image trials and one free map trial.

Daniel Rasmusson of DroneDeploy said: “The value of drone imagery is equal to the decisions it enables. Birds.ai is such a valuable launch partner because they equip our users with the information needed to take action.”

Joining Birds.ai in the App Market’s inaugural launch are over 10 apps from companies like Box, John Deere, and Verifly.  The App Market was created to allow users to more seamlessly integrate drone data into their workflows, and will act as a one-stop-shop for all aspects of cloud-based drone data analysis.  For more information about the DroneDeploy App Market, visit the DroneDeploy Blog.

Birds.ai is gaining momentum after successfully pitching its technology at the Commercial UAV Expo this week, and being selected to join the Holland Startup Pavilion at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. CTO Anouk Visser also recently was selected as a finalist at TedXAmsterdamWomen Startup Competition.

From DroneBlog: Meet the Young CTO Taking AI By Storm

Anouk Visser isn’t a typical grad student at the University of Amsterdam. At age 24, Anouk is already managing her second successful startup as the Chief Technology Officer for Birds.ai. She’s also a fellow of the prestigious Kairos Society, on the board of DutchUAS, and nominated for the VIVA 400 Award for entrepreneurial and inspiring women.

Anouk’s success in machine learning almost wasn’t. She was originally interested in Computer Science, but said “luckily I visited an information session about the AI Bachelor and thought the subfield of Natural Language Processing would be the best choice for me. That was wrong again, but it put me on the right track!”

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At Birds.ai, Anouk and her team have built technology that identifies specific objects from aerial imagery, and automatically measures, tracks, and reports their progress. Agriculture and inspection industries have been identified as the first likely customers, but Birds.ai won’t stop there.

Anouk explained, “Our technology learns to detect whatever we want it to detect. This allows us to quickly enter different markets very easily.”

Lately, though, Anouk has been on the stage as often as she’s been behind the computer. She recently presented at GTC, where she said she took to heart a quote by Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of NVIDIA.

“He said, ‘Deep learning is not going to be an industry. It’s going to be in every industry.’ That’s definitely true and became clear at GTC EU again,” Anouk said. “AI is here to stay.”

Anouk also presented at at TedXAmsterdamWomen earlier this month, beating out 6 other applicants to move on to the final round. This Friday, Anouk will present as one of three finalists for TedXAmsterdamWomen. If she wins, she will receive coaching for legal, financial, and marketing issues, a membership at TQ, and a TomTom watch.

TedXAmsterdamWomen starts at 3:00pm on Friday. Tickets are sold out, but you can watch Anouk’s presentation through the livestream here.

To learn more about Anouk’s technology or roles on her team, visit birds.ai or email info@birds.ai.

We’ve Been Chosen to Demo at CES 2017!

The Birds.ai team is flying to Las Vegas this January to showcase a live demonstration of our computer vision software at CES 2017. Our demonstration will be part of the Holland Startup Pavilion, a new effort by the Dutch government to showcase the country’s most innovative companies.

Our CEO Camiel is looking forward to “finding new partnerships in the inspection industry, such as using our software to manage wind turbine farms, solar farms, or power lines. We also hope to build new partnerships with drone and satellite companies to see how our technology can leverage their services.”

Camiel added, “We’re excited to be part of the Holland Pavilion, to strengthen our relationships with other Dutch startups working in the same industry, like ClearFlight Solutions and Delft Robotics.”

Our recent demonstration at TechCrunch DisruptSF generated a swell of attention from both established technology companies as well as new drone startups. We’re looking forward to continuing that momentum at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas at the end of this month.

Our team – all under the age of 30 – is on a roll after winning a place in the Climate-KIC Accelerator Programme, and CTO Anouk Visser being selected as a top 3 finalist in the TedXAmsterdamWomen competition.

If you’re interested in meeting with Birds.ai during CES 2017 to learn about its software or discuss a potential partnership, email info@birds.ai.

Join Birds.ai’s Quest for World Domination

Are you: Constantly hacking new tools? A wizard with computer vision algorithms? Experienced at maintaining cloud infrastructure?  

We’re looking to fill three new positions on our close and dynamic team.  As an AI hacker, AI researcher, or infrastructure engineer, you will have an office in the robotics hub of the Netherlands, a competitive salary, and the chance to work with the coolest people on earth.

Our cloud-based computer vision software helps clients in the agriculture and inspection industries to track, manage, and measure their assets.  We have huge opportunities ahead, but need to bolster our team in order to truly take advantage of them.

If you’re up to the challenge, send your résumé and a short motivational letter to info@birds.ai. If you have any questions, feel free to send an email, call us at +31 (0)15 760 16 11, or join one of our lunches in our office garden.

Birds.ai is Accepted to Climate-KIC Accelerator

Birds.ai has been accepted to the only EU acceleration programme focused on climate impact and cleantech, the Climate-KIC Accelerator.  The Accelerator includes a 3-stage,  18-month program that helps startups to commercialise their technology, by providing coaching, resources, and knowledge.

Birds.ai CTO Anouk Visser and co-founder Kitso Epema participated in a 2-day bootcamp in mid-September, and were selected to participate in the first stage after pitching their business idea. Stage 1 is focused on finding the market niche and developing a financial model.

The team will now receive €5,000 and 5 coaching sessions through December. These sessions will help the team to validate their business idea.

Kitso said:

“The bootcamp already gave us great insights in how to think of a business idea. Of course we know we should think from the viewpoint of the customer, but it is usually difficult for us engineers to understand what that means.
Now we have learned a great framework to use to view our business idea in a better way. The next coaching sessions will help us improve our idea even further by validating all assumptions we made up to now.”

Birds.ai has had several major successes in recent weeks, including a successful demo at TechCrunch DisruptSF, a presentation by CEO Camiel Verschoor at Amsterdam.AI, as well as presentations at GTC16 and TedXAmsWomen by Anouk Visser.

Vote for our CTO As Your Favorite VIVA400 Woman!

It’s no surprise to us that our AI wizard and CTO Anouk Visser has been nominated for the VIVA400 awards under the Knappe Koppen category!  The VIVA400 awards focus on entrepreneurial, inspiring, and ambitious women.

Anouk is on a serious roll, after recently presenting at 2 major conferences – GTC Europe and TedXAmsterdamWomen.  GTC Europe is the premier conference for GPU technology and attracts nearly 2,000 attendees interested in learning how AI can be applied in different industries.

TEDxAmsterdamWomen focuses on the unique way in which women contribute to global change and thus reshape the future. Anouk did so well in her presentation, in fact, that she was one of three women invited to pitch at the final  event.

Vote for Anouk by heading over to VIVA400.  And, don’t miss another accolade by following her on Twitter: @anoukvisser.

Sugar beet crop counting with drones

The IRS Foundation, Aurea Imaging and Birds.ai have collaboratively launched a pilot to automate the counting of sugar beets using drones. Currently, the growth and emergence of sugar beet crops are monitored visually and on foot, which is a time-consuming and costly operation.

“Drones of Aurea Imaging and the analysis software of Birds.ai enable the sugar beet crop research of IRS by providing information on crop numbers, emergence rates and crop density”

says Noud van Swaaij, statistical analyst of the IRS.

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“If the sugar beet can be detected in various growth stages, the growth potential of new sugar beet seeds or different crop treatments can be mapped and studied, which contributes to the development of growth models for the sugar beet crop in The Netherlands. Furthermore, the resulting crop density maps enable farmers to fertilize and irrigate their sugar beet crops in an efficient and precise manner.”

Birds.ai uses artificial intelligence to automatically analyse aerial imagery. The software is capable to automatically detect and classify objects in this imagery.

“We are currently investigating the application of our technology in various sectors. For the agricultural sector, this trial is a wonderful opportunity to investigate the performance and value of our software”

says Pieter Oranje, co-founder of Birds.ai.

The test is conducted at five different locations in the Netherlands. Drone images will be collected by Aurea imaging of all the parcels. Subsequently, Birds.ai will analyse all the drone images to find all the sugar beet crops. The various parcels contain sugar beet crops in different stages of growth. In a few weeks it is clear whether the trial can be called a success.

Birds.ai joins Delft Aerial Robotics

From today Dutch UAS officially partners with Delft Aerial Robotics (DAR). Under the name Birds.ai, Dutch UAS will continue to work on revolutionary technology that provides a cost effective solution for managing large areas, down to identifying and tracking individual objects. They do this by detecting, classifying and tracking of individual objects, such as animals, crops and cars possible.

The Birds.ai platform, which was originally developed to combat poaching, is unique worldwide for its smart image recognition software for aerial images. The software seeks through large amount of aerial images of among other things drones, to automatically find objects. The potential applications of the Birds.ai platform are limitless, and will allow a wide range of users from industrial to environmental entities to manage their assets efficiently.

Birds.ai CEO Camiel R. Verschoor said:

“The partnership between Birds.ai and DAR is valuable to bring the Birds.ai platform to market. DAR’s expertise, investment, and network will accelerate the technical development as well as the time to market of our platform. By analysing aerial images automatically, we empower industries to survey large areas efficiently. For example, we can provide farmers in Australia and South America with current statistics of their cattle.”
DAR’s co-founder Lucas van Oostrum said:
“We invested in Birds.ai because we believe their artificial intelligence algorithms will change the way we are able to manage large scale assets. Not only do they enhance aerial data by extracting location and health information of individual objects, but are also able to provide statistics through industry-specific reports.”

About Birds.ai: The mission of Birds.ai is to give the industry worldwide the means to effectively use and understand aerial data. The Birds.ai platform helps end users identify, track and monitor individual objects in large areas and generate key statistics about these objects. Birds.ai is unique in developing artificial intelligence algorithms that are able to shine light on aerial data.

About Delft Aerial Robotics: Delft Aerial Robotics (DAR)’s mission is to fully automate the drone workflow. DAR invests in an ecosystem of startups, researchers, and industry professionals in order to take the human completely out of the loop. It is a proud member of RoboValley, an initiative to encourage robotics innovation by coordinating efforts between public, private, and academic entities.