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.