JAR Aerospace has grown from a backyard garage to 20-person team in the space of a year. Created in 2017 by four university friends, the tech startup is on a quest to take unmanned aerial vehicles to new heights.
Founded by twenty-somethings, Sam Lewinson, Jack Cullen, Daniel Moscaritolo and Lachlan Burke, JAR Aerospace was originally born out of the foursome’s desire to provide a commercial application for drones.
COO Sam Lewinson tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) the initial plan was to provide a user case for the use of drones for blood and organ transportation.
“The idea behind that use-case was drones are not a very trusted and liked technology, bar kids playing with them as a toy. So, we set out to show this was an application that could remove that stigma and show the socially beneficial causes drones could be used in,” Lewinson says.
While the initial interest may have been to pursue how drones could satisfy a public service, it wasn’t long before the JAR team turned their attention to a different sphere; tendering for a contract with the Department of Defence.
“The development process did not change much. The reality was we wanted to build the best systems to operate in complex airspace environments. That includes over populous areas, beyond line of sight flight, autonomous flight, and flight around airports and other aircraft,” explains JAR CEO Jack Cullen.
Since successfully winning the initial tender, Cullen says the process has changed very little.
“The development process for Defence and commercial applications is quite similar for JAR, with a strong focus on making sure our platforms can perform alongside other aircraft and within complex airspace scenarios. Whether that is a Defence range with other aircraft or an airport with civilian aircraft,” he says.
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With big companies like Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon dominating the aeronautical space, the JAR team is operating in a very traditional arena. It’s one where big players rule. Yet Cullen says the team’s David versus Goliath stature can be an advantage, allowing JAR to maintain a very agile and innovative approach to how they design their systems.
“This means we are able to respond faster to customer needs while still having the right people with the skills and expertise to continue the development; with world leading safety and reliability always at the front of our minds,” he says.
In July 2018, JAR won the Cisco Start Challenge. The digital The digital transformation prize from Cisco includes simple, secure and enterprise-grade solutions from the Cisco Start portfolio, designed specifically to support small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). As the winner of the Challenge, JAR Aerospace will receive network, security and endpoint security solutions for quick threat detection, as well as switches, routers and wireless solutions for fast and reliable network connectivity. At the time, Lewinson told KBB the win was great for the company’s confidence, providing a validation of JAR’s ideas and concepts.
While Cullen says winning the pitch competition has ensured the company places a much higher emphasis on network security.
“Especially how that pertains to protecting our IP and the information of our customers and partners. This transformation has meant we are much more diligent in how we handle our customers, partners, and our own data,” Cullen explains.
Certainly, working with the Department of Defence comes with unique challenges, particularly pertaining to security.
“Obviously, there are a lot of checks and gates to go through; and all these systems and quality assurances and design concepts that need to be certified to national and global scales,” Lewinson tells KBB.
Cullen says the Cisco partnership has helped ensure the company’s compliance.
“We are committed to protecting the information of our customers’ requirements and the technological IP which goes along with that. To that extent, we have fully engaged with Cisco to ensure that this information is protected.”
Specifically, the Cisco partnership has helped JAR build security into their prototype.
The Cisco partnership has helped us protect the IP of our prototype as well as what capabilities it has. The partnership has also taught us to be vigilant with the technology and companies we work with to develop these platforms.”
Meanwhile, JAR is continuing to keep its options open. Given Cullen’s background as an aeronautical engineer, there’s little doubt it won’t be long before the team turn their eyes skyward once more.
“JAR has taken a strong step in educating the future minds of Australia to ensure we have the talent and skills necessary to continue our vision,” Cullen says.
“This vision is to ignite the Aerospace industry within Australia. For JAR that means we are looking at how we can begin to play a larger role in developing unmanned systems such as Rockets to enable the next generation the opportunity to access space in a more accessible and exciting way.”
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