Interview with Michal Weiss, Head of Product – Cloud Ground Control at Advanced Navigation

About Michal Weiss

Michal Weiss is Head of Product – Cloud Ground Control at Advanced Navigation. She plays a critical role in defining the company’s product vision and transforming product ideas into marketable solutions. She leads the development of Cloud Ground Control, a revolutionary cloud-based platform that helps companies carry out versatile drone missions, from asset inspection to beach and fire patrols. Michal has over 10 years of experience in product management and a background in GIS, robotics and navigation systems.

About Advanced Navigation

Advanced Navigation is a world leader in AI robotics and navigation technologies. By leveraging capabilities in AI neural networks and deep learning algorithms, its solutions deliver unparalleled capabilities and exceptional performance across land, air, sea and space applications.

Founded on a culture of research and discovery, Advanced Navigation’s mission is to be the catalyst of the autonomy revolution. Fields of expertise include artificial intelligence, underwater sonar, GNSS, radio frequency systems, inertial sensors, robotics, quantum sensors and photonics.

Today, Advanced Navigation is a supplier to some of the world’s largest companies, including Airbus, Boeing, Google, Tesla, NASA, Apple, and General Motors.

What inspired you to start working with a company that specialises in AI and navigation?

I’ve always been interested in utilising technology to solve problems. This prompted me to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management, majoring in Information Systems.

I have over 10 years of enterprise experience in product management and team management across retail, fintech, Insurtech, mapping, robotics and navigation systems. Leveraging my expertise and passion, I have helped companies diversify their portfolio, explore new product ideas through deep market analysis, build winning value propositions and guide development teams to successful launches. As a customer-centric leader, I’ve also demonstrated success in building and maintaining strong business relationships and partnerships.

In 2020, I made the transition to Advanced Navigation, where I currently lead the development of Cloud Ground Control, specifically by leveraging my enterprise experience to turn this innovation into a marketable and socially impactful solution.

How do you see the drone delivery industry evolving in the next several years?

The drone delivery industry will be a key player in future economic opportunities. According to research by BlueWeave Consulting, the global delivery drone market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 29.77% between 2023 and 2029, taking the value from USD 9.56 billion in 2022 to USD 45.65 billion in 2029.

The rise of e-commerce and expectations for faster and more efficient order delivery are the key factors driving such growth. This will provoke the development of more advanced technologies, including but not limited to more lightweight and flexible drones, drones that can carry more payload, and fleet management platforms built for real-time, multi-drone operations.

What do you believe are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to drone deliveries?

A major challenge in drone deliveries, and by extension the general uncrewed vehicles industry, is the lack of access to timely, accurate and relevant information during an operation. Whether it is  delivering groceries or dropping medical supplies in an emergency situation, having real-time data provides full situational awareness to the operator, which is pivotal to planning successful missions.

Among drone deliveries, there is a rising expectation for multi-drone and multi-vehicle operations, however this capability has been drawn back by the lack of software management platforms that can make such operations easy. In reality, we are seeing a multitude of unintegrated devices and systems built by different manufacturers, and delivered over an unsteady, strictly ranged radio network. This greatly hinders efficiency and poses risks to data security when running delivery operations on a large scale.

How does your company ensure safety and reliability in regard to its products?

Seeing a gap in the market, Advanced Navigation developed Cloud Ground Control (CGC), a cloud-based command and control solution for drones and uncrewed vehicles. CGC allows pilots and mission planners to remotely command and control a swarm of uncrewed vehicles across air, land and sea through a web browser. By enabling real-time video feed and telemetry, and easy access and management of captured data, CGC provides fully remote visibility to optimise situational awareness in all kinds of events.

CGC stands out from the competition thanks to two key advantages – its operability over 4G/5G cellular networks, and compatibility and interoperability with any type of vehicle or sensor. By using 4G/5G networks, CGC opts for the most secure way to transmit data to the cloud. Unlike radio, 4G/5G networks have no limitation on physical range, meaning the mission commander can simply sit behind their desk, and view and control vehicles that are on the other side of the world.

CGC’s ability to integrate with any type of vehicle and simultaneously multiple vehicles offers command centres flexibility. Users can operate diverse brands of drones, uncrewed ground vehicles and autonomous surface vessels using an all-in-one platform. They can even tailor their payload such as GPS trackers, cameras, and sensors to match their exact mission requirements. This is especially important when using drone delivery for unfolding events. In the real world context, mission commanders can issue a mix of integrated ground rovers and drones to scan a beach or bushfire, who will then transmit live footage and data back as the emergency payload is delivered. This enables the commander to plan informed actions, such as dropping a floating device to a trapped swimmer in the ocean, or sending a rescue crew out to an exact location.

What kind of data do you collect from your software and systems, and does this better serve future development of the systems?

CGC provides access to a myriad of data features, all from a web browser:

  • Integrations and API: Integrate your own applications using the API to access video, telemetry and peripherals in real-time.
  • Real-time telemetry: Monitor and control your drones in real-time with rich 3D mapping.
  • Low latency video: With video latency under 200 milliseconds, watch your drone video feed with no perceivable delay.
  • Built-in Compliance: Featuring built-in compliance tools, ensure you meet your compliance obligations.
  • Cloud storage: Storage for your telemetry, video, LiDAR and other peripheral data at your fingertips.
  • Customs apps: Use the SDK to build your own app on the platform.
  • Peripheral agnostic: An advanced VPN allows you to access any network peripheral.
  • Vehicle agnostic: Support for multiple industry standard protocols provides integration with drones from many manufacturers.
  • End-to-end encryption: Cloud Ground Control is built secure with the highest level encryption and security in place.
  • AI modelling – The platform runs AI algorithms in the cloud, relaying real-time camera feed data to the end user to support versatile missions, such as object detection, tracking and thermal imaging.

What kind of training is available from Advanced Navigation?

Our global team of highly skilled and dependable experts are always available to provide support, ensuring that every project and integration with Cloud Ground Control is a resounding success.

Cloud Ground Control (CGC) in application

What kind of industry partnerships have you formed to help grow Advanced Navigation?

CGC has recently entered a new strategic partnership with Robotics Australia Group, Australia’s peak body for the robotics sector. The partnership aims to facilitate the growth of a sustainable and internationally competitive national robotics industry through a focused, collaborative approach between industry, research, government, start-ups, investment and education. This will bring opportunities for CGC and Advanced Navigation to engage deeply with the dynamic robotics industry, empowering developers to combine cloud power with robotics to create efficient, intelligent systems at scale.

Is there a particular product that you are proud of and would like to tell us about?

Advanced Navigation is proud of the development of the CGC platform. Currently, most drone manufacturers do not allow real-time view and control of drones through 4G/5G connectivity. Pilots who have visibility to real-time data have to upload them to a computer for others to view post-mission. There is also a very limited number of software platforms capable of incorporating multiple drones and robotic vehicles from different brands. This creates an obstacle for enterprises owning extensive fleets.

By leveraging the omnipresent nature of a cloud-based system and 4G/5G networks, CGC unlocks an industry-first ability to turn an unlimited amount of vehicles across air, land and sea into a connected autonomous fleet, regardless of their individual brand and manufacturer. This vehicle-agnosticism is what cements CGC’s place as a world-leading cloud-based command and control solution for drones and uncrewed vehicles of all types, and a real game-changer for large-scale operations.

What advice would you give to someone interested in this industry and specifically getting involved with drone deliveries?

Attending industry events and conferences is a great way to get started. They offer the opportunity to directly interact with technology experts and hear about first-hand experiences that got them to where they are. It’s also an opportunity to network with like-minded people and exchange knowledge while broadening your connections.

For instance, Advanced Navigation hosts industry events throughout the year, inviting business leaders from robotics, AI, quantum, space technology and a myriad of other fields to share their expertise and practical advice for those interested in entering the industry. These events not only help to foster knowledge exchange but offer anyone in the community the opportunity to involve themselves in the industry.

It’s also important to continually educate yourself. AI, drones and robotics are all rapidly growing fields, with new innovations being discovered every day. Staying up to date with the latest reports and innovation announcements, as well as consuming knowledge through various forms of media, are critical for understanding where the industry is going and where the next focus might be.