Oxford based Animal Dynamics makes major hire to develop industry leading perception system for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Animal Dynamics Iain Wallace

Animal Dynamics, which designs systems inspired by the study of evolutionary biomechanics, has hired Iain Wallace as Chief Engineer Autonomy to develop a new system for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Responsible for all autonomy systems at Animal Dynamics, Iain will play a critical role in helping to accelerate the commercialisation of its UAV range, Stork.

Stork combines parafoil technology and what the company refers to as “bleeding edge AI software” to create an entirely new aerial autonomy solution capable of carrying 135 kg of cargo up to 250 miles (or 400 km). It has been designed to solve complex real-world challenges, such as providing humanitarian aid in crisis zones, improving emergency response procedures in difficult to reach places, or designing sustainable agriculture solutions for innovative thinkers.

Animal Dynamics StorkIain will be responsible for building a team that develops an industry leading perception system for UAVs. Stork’s unique and rugged frame enables state-of-the-art sensing and compute opportunities fusing vision, lidar, and radar. High performance radar and lidar are normally beyond the limits of what smaller UAVs can fly compared to larger aircraft.

By utilising three sensor types, Stork has a detailed 360 picture of its surroundings, a necessity for it to carry out disaster response and humanitarian aid missions. The advanced perception system will deliver greater machine intelligence and safety in harsh, all-weather environments, enabling Stork to navigate busy skies, ensure safe landing sites and accelerate path planning for safer, more efficient flights.

Wallace has a track record of delivering complex AI in the harshest environments on earth and brings nearly two decades worth of experience in the robotics, computer science, and software engineering space to the Animal Dynamics team.

As Chief Scientific Officer at Bristol-based subsea company Rovco, he was responsible for leading the development of 3D vision and AI to improve quality and reduce cost in subsea inspection.

Prior to this, Wallace held the position of Autonomy and Robotics Analyst at the computer software and services company SCISYS. During his time there, he developed innovative robotic navigation and scene understanding technology for the UK and European Space Agencies – including vision systems for Mars rovers and terrestrial inspection robotics.

Wallace also obtained a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from The University of Edinburgh and has 17 publications on AI, robotics, and computer vision.  Recently he has given invited talks on embedded robotic vision, contributed to UKRI blogs on UK innovation in robotics, and co-authored several patents in the field.

Alex Caccia, CEO of Animal Dynamics, commented: “Wallace has a wealth of experience in delivering complex AI in the real world – be that 3D data visualisation, deep learning, or embedded systems. His expertise, research, and experience will be absolutely instrumental in achieving the commercial roll-out of Stork. We are delighted to announce that Wallace has joined us on our journey.”

Animal Dynamics prides itself on designing hyper-efficient systems inspired by the deep study of evolutionary biomechanics, attracting scientists including Professor of Biomechanics in the Zoology Department of Oxford University, Adrian Thomas, who is the Chief Science Officer at the company. It is focused on bringing autonomy systems to market that radically improve the way cargo is delivered with an early generation product, Stork ST-25 already operational today and available for customer evaluation trials.

“My job is to make smarter machines do impossible things,” says Wallace. “As a technologist, it does not get any bigger or more exciting than this and I am proud to be part of this fantastic team where I can apply years of cutting edge research and experience to solve real, practical problems.”

To find out more about Animal Dynamics and its products, please visit animal-dynamics.com