Ray20’s Vision Culminates at Acubed

There are many points and counterpoints when it comes to pursuing innovation in times of crisis such as what we’re experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Innovations that can be quickly matured and commercialized are sometimes worth accelerating for organizations that are seeing existing revenue lines suffer. Yet other innovations, which may be promising but still in their infancy, are rightfully scrutinized as an organization makes painful but necessary choices in order to survive.

It’s with sadness that I share that Acubed’s Ray20 project has fallen into the latter camp, but it’s not without a deep understanding of the challenges facing the aerospace industry at large, and pride in what our project team has accomplished in a short timeframe.

As a reminder, Acubed has a five-year strong track record of exploring projects that look beyond the horizon of what’s competitive to Airbus today, towards what could become a protective moat for our company in the future. This is no easy feat and no small undertaking. We were the youngest project at the time COVID-19 set in, and while we accomplished a great deal in just eight months, ultimately it wasn’t enough to ensure the project’s continuation during the worst downturn ever experienced in the history of the aviation industry.

Our accomplishments

We do believe that we are onto something with Ray20 that will ultimately prove to be wise—and profitable—to pursue, as others in the industry are already doing. We believe that with advancements in ubiquitous connectivity technology, cloud computing, and off-the-shelf cameras, there is a commercial market for high quality, high temporal cadence, affordable Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) imagery and real time analytics.

Today, GIS is a high-margin market focused on the governmental and defense sectors, but there is a larger pool of potential customers in the commercial market who are not seeking ownership of the imagery, but rather access to an abundance of high spatial and temporal cadence imagery for custom solutions.

In half a year, and despite the wrench COVID-19 threw into the mix, we went from a concept to delivering an intelligent IoT edge device and cloud-based analytics system able to capture imagery at a higher quality than satellite platforms and several orders of magnitude lower in cost. On top of all this, we have also been able to train deep learning analytics on thousands of images to deliver actionable insights in near real-time. To bring this all together is truly unbelievable and a testament to the talent, drive and tenacity of the Ray20 team members. I couldn’t have asked for more from all of them.

Looking ahead

Ultimately, we believe the demand for out-of-the-box analytics is creating a paradigm shift towards a need for custom solutions. These solutions require a new process flow and deep learning algorithms to run on thousands of images that are collocated with the imagery data. With Ray20 we set out to demonstrate that a greater volume of cheap, commoditized imagery (stored and processed on cloud-based platforms) delivers GIS datasets on which customers can instantly run algorithms, creating a valuable future product and market value multiplier. We believe this is the future, and we’ve made a valuable contribution to moving the needle in that direction.

We thank our supporters, both within Airbus and Acubed and those externally, for everything these last months and we look forward to the future.

- Ben Wilson