Lawrence-based Ainstein taking flight with jetpack founder in Red Bull Air Race

By: Elyssa Bezner, Intern


June 12, 2018

When the founder of JetPack Aviation blasts to the sky later this month in Red Bull’s Air Race World Championship, it will be a testament to the innovation and quality at Ainstein, a Kansas radar tech firm, said Bryan C. Boots.

“Although our products are widely deployed today in unmanned aviation (drone) applications, this will be the first time that we know of that one of our products will be used in a manned flight,” said Boots, business development manager for the Lawrence-based company. “It represents a big leap for us as a company in that our products have been recognized as being ultra-safe and reliable, and the confidence that JetPack Aviation has put in them (that’s actually the founder of JetPack Aviation who is flying the jetpack, demonstrating his own personal commitment to the safety of the product).”

The working jetpack is expected to debut during the June 23-24 Red Bull competition, he said, using Ainstein’s radar altimeter technology. The firm’s sensor and control products are widely used by other tech companies working to create the next emerging smart technology, said Sheen Xiao, director of operations for Ainstein.

That includes forays into projects ranging from self-driving snow plows to measuring the speed of golf balls soaring across a course, Boots and Xiao said.

“We’re faster in adopting the latest radar technology. Our radar on the market has a smaller platform than what [others] offer,” Xiao said, noting the 100-gram weight of the Ainstein technology.

Powered by Aerotenna, a sister company founded by Zongbo Wang, a former research professor at the University of Kansas, the three year-old Ainstein has experienced quick growth, she said.

It’s a credit to reliable partners, guidance from advisors, as well as a hustling team, Xiao said.

“We are a young company and the team is very effective. In my observation, every single one of us is doing four times the work of larger size companies,” she said. “Even though we’re small, like about 40 employees, we are able to penetrate four verticals and very effectively for our customers and contacts.”

Those market verticals — agriculture, automotive, industrial measurement and sports — each have grown at their own pace, with the most significant customer base in the ag realm.

The fastest-developing, however, falls within the automotive industry — both in the United States and China — where Xiao and Boots said have great potential for self-driving and assisted driving using sensors that make roadways safer.

“We are able to offer something that is not on the market right now,” said Xiao. “Either it’s the latest radar technology or it is cutting at what others are not actually offering at all.”

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