Sunflower Labs’ Autonomous Pivot

Sunflower Labs’ Autonomous Pivot

A high-end residential safety supplier expands into autonomous enterprise surveillance.

Early in 2020, Sunflower Labs’ launch on the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) received a number of notices for a completely autonomous, active-residential-security setup. At that point, what’s now referred to as the Sunflower Beehive System mixed sensor, processing and aerial parts. “Sunflower” sensors disguised as backyard lights detected and recognized movement and vibration from car to footsteps. A weatherproof “Hive” base station used AI for knowledge analysis whereas additionally charging and sheltering the drone. If investigation was merited, the “Bee” quadcopter autonomously deployed to supply real-time video. After three-and-a-half years in growth, the rollout seemed promising.

Then the approaching of COVID restricted residential adoption—and led Sunflower to pivot to enterprise functions. “We simply discovered that the UI that we constructed, all the work that we already put into residential safety—it’s very simply transferable to an assortment of different makes use of,” co-founder/CEO Alex Pachikov stated from California. “People have come to us, principally saying, ‘Look, we will’t have as many safety guards, as many individuals deployed there. We want this to be autonomous.”

Pandemic and pivot pushed delivery again to December, however Sunflower has scored curiosity throughout enterprise classes. Security firms defending warehouse and storage amenities. A hashish farm in California. A railway coping with depot intruders. An infrastructure inspection consumer—”we’ve finished 330 buyer flights, not simply check flights,” Pachikov stated.


Sunflower Labs is headquartered not solely within the San Francisco Bay Area but in addition in a suburb of Zurich, Switzerland. Three causes: Pachikov had began a earlier firm with Sunflower’s Swiss co-founder/CTO Christian Eheim after the 2 roomed collectively on the University of Colorado Boulder (Pachikov learning astrophysics, Eheim aerospace engineering); universities in Zurich supply a deep expertise pool; Pachikov’s spouse is Swiss.

The Bee can fly for 15-20 minutes, in as much as 35 mile per hour winds. Payload choices embrace cameras for low-light and excessive decision operations, and an infrared digital camera assists landings. Commercial functions permits use of each the “sunflowers” and present third-party sensors. “Most of our focus proper now could be on the drone within the field facets,” Pachikov defined. “The solely factor you inform the drone is what you need it to do, the place you need it to go, and it’s going to resolve how you can go there safely and navigate across the property. All of these issues are principally constructed into the system.”


A cellular app permits for monitoring system standing, testing alerts and the power to remotely view exercise heatmaps. Pachikov shared his display and confirmed me video of a constructing inspection he’d launched.

“This 3D map is how we configure every thing. Those inexperienced little dots you see in all places are what we name statement zones. And this preview window, that’s going to point out me that aspect of the home over right here. Then up above, I’ve this orbit, and that’s for like platform inspections.

“This is the yard of our workplace. Down right here is our base station. So if an occasion was triggered by sunflowers or by an exterior sensor, I’ll principally simply say, ‘Let’s examine it.’

“You see it’s darkish, so it’s switched into type of low light-activity mode. Now it’s principally accomplished the mission. You can see the bottom station within the backside nook; the roof of the hive has opened up. The Bee goes to reposition itself over the touchdown beacon. And now it’s descending.”

I assumed Pachikov, talking from south of San Francisco, was exhibiting me his California workplace. “Oh, that’s Zurich,” he stated about his Swiss co-headquarters, almost 6,000 miles away.


Carlos Islas is the sitting chief of the Bell, California, police division. Bell abuts the Los Angeles River, and a strip inside its jurisdiction has attracted not solely bikers and hikers however homeless individuals and gang-related narcotics exercise. There have been “a number of shootings and a few homicides,” the chief stated.

“The homeless are victims as a lot as anybody else, and it’s very troublesome to drive a riverbed,” Islas famous. “We wanted another manner of standard patrol.”

Seeking a strategy to monitor criminality, Chief Islas attended an International Association of Chiefs of Police assembly. At that point, he discovered geofencing and the like overly advanced. But when he noticed Sunflower’s post-CES protection, he emailed Pachikov.

On his strategy to one other chiefs’ assembly, Islas stopped off for an indication at Pachikov’s residence. He appreciated the Sunflower system’s attributes and ruggedness, and is now discussing leasing an early manufacturing model, checking in with Bell’s metropolis council, the FAA, the general public and the sheriff’s division helicopter staff.

Sunflower, Islas stated, has “moved extra closely into autonomous flight patterns, extra give attention to motion and people, nearer visuals, following to some extent. That’s precisely what we’re searching for. The key piece is to trigger individuals to suppose a second time, to reduce the incidence of crime. If they know that drone is patrolling the riverbed, my guess is that we’ll see a drop in crime.”

Sunflower “will come down and program this geofence. It can sit within the hive on the roof of town yard, and it might probably exit and do the patrol. If it does what I’m hoping it to do, we might do a 3-5 12 months contract.

“I’m continuously searching for expertise and new improvements to make use of as a power multiplier and a manner to supply higher service,” Chief Islas stated, “lowering crime whereas, holding everybody protected, together with the perpetrators. When we discover it, I’m very fast to maneuver. At the tip of the day, it will increase belief and reduces the possibility of a adverse consequence.”