Award-winning, Boeing-funded counter UAS firm shares vision

By Luke Geiver | May 07, 2018

Fortem Technologies designs and builds counter drone capabilities. The company was recently recognized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International with the organization’s Xcellence award. We spoke with Tim Bean, CEO of Fortem about the state of UAS, counter UAS development and why the company earned a $15 million Series A round of funding from one of the largest aerospace firms in the world.

Boeing’s Attention

To date, there has been more than a billion dollars invested into counter UAS technology, according to Bean. Fortem was funded in part to continue the evolution of counter UAS capabilities. Although Boeing tested several different radar systems, it found Fortem’s TrueView radar system to be the highest performing. In the past, Bean said, radio frequency was used to monitor drones, but now with Fortem’s radar capabilities, the radar approach can monitor a no-fly zone for any drones flying autonomously or on initial way points.

The distributed networked TrueView radar system can scale from a single building to cover an entire metro using multiple radars. The system was developed to provide a full 120- by 120-degree field of view of multiple objects at speed with algorithms that are tuned into the drone world, Bean said. The Fortem team also spent a lot of time marrying its chips with its software to eliminate any false positives that might arise.

In addition to Boeing, Fortem received funding support from Mubadala, one of the largest industrial investors targeting the Middle East.

Fortem’s Current Focus

Since receiving funding in March, Fortem has continued to pursue waivers and other work to show the Federal Aviation Administration that beyond visual line of sight flights are possible, Bean says. Along with Boeing, Fortem is working with 40 UAV manufacturers and air traffic manufacturers on the issue. “I think the government and FAA have both been very supportive to opening the airspace as long as the safety case can be shown,” he said.

In addition to BVLOS prove-out work, Fortem is also working with military and DOD partners to test and prove out its situational air control systems. Fortem also has the DroneHunter, a drone equipped with a sensor package and capture-net that allows a Fortem drone to be deployed and corral an unwanted drone into a net before bringing it to a safe and secure location.

The company is also working with entities in need of counter UAS security. Potential clients are shown the system’s capabilities and then Fortem takes four to six weeks to build the necessary radar units for a given application. After a half-day training period, the clients can purchase the system turn-key or purchase the security system as a service. According to Bean, most clients elect the security as a service option.

The State of UAS

As for the future of Fortem and the overall state of the UAS sector, Bean was excited and short in his response. “The drone revolution is going to start happening,” he said, “and Fortem is in the middle of it.”